|Overview on Johnny McKay before the Army
Within a few of the series' episodes, some background material was presented on Johnny. Conclusions presented here on who Johnny was before he joined the Army are not necessarily canon, but based on the material presented within the series.
Johnny, who would be 21-22 when he meets Goldman and Anderson in Ep # 22- Saigon Part One, would have been born in approximately 1947, in Gary, Indiana, a steel industrial city.
Johnny's naturally easy going nature points to a tightly knit Irish family background that more than likely had him the youngest, with two older sisters. The sisters, both born close together themselves, would have likely married young, around 18, to blue collar steel workers and started families of their own. They would be nearby, the family never far from each other. There would be approximately three or four years difference in ages between Johnny and the youngest of the two sisters.
Johnny's father, an Army helicopter pilot himself, would be killed while in Korea (1952). He was flying wounded into a MASH unit when he was shot down. Johnny would have been approximately five or six years of age and so would have few memories of his father. Irish families are close by nature, so the McKay clan would have remained close to the recently widowed Mrs. McKay to support her through this tough time.
A strong male influence was there for Johnny, though, while growing up. It would be easy to assume his maternal grandfather would be that influence. Once his sisters had married and started having children of their own, Johnny, now a teenager himself, would soon find himself surrounded by young and rambunctious nieces and nephews. This is a good time for him.
The love and stability of such a family would let Johnny become the young man we see in Vietnam. In high school, he would have been popular and had many friends. With such obvious good looks, he was no doubt popular with the girls. He would definitely be involved in sports, possibly football and based on his skill with a pistol and rifle (as demonstrated in Ep # 47, World in Changes, and Ep # 51, Dead Man Tales) he may have been part of the school's rifle team.
In 1965 and graduating from High School, Johnny is a footloose and confident young man. Vietnam would sound exciting to him and, instead of going to junior college, he is either immediately drafted or immediately enlists. Either way, he leaps at the opportunity, more than likely easily caught up in a wave of patriotism, influenced certainly by the fact that his father was a war hero.
After attending Basic Training and OCS, Johnny would go to flight school at Ft. Wolter, Texas, much to the dismay and disappointment of his mother.