Mickey McCamish has been a driving force for popular events in the community for more than 10 years.
The Chattanooga native moved back to his hometown in 2008 upon retiring from a successful career marketing golf in Myrtle Beach. He joined the Friends of the Festival to help garner advertisements for the Chattanooga Classic golf tournament but soon found himself directing the entire event.
He did that for a couple of years before the event folded. He ultimately moved to a supporting role with the Riverbend Festival, where, once again, he found himself in charge.
But despite being in the public realm, it's the behind-the-scenes work the former Navy captain has done for veterans that has stood out most.
"You just become connected to the veteran community," he said.
Name: Mickey McCamish
Branch of military: U.S. Navy
Years of service:1965-1992
His first volunteer work was with the Epilepsy Foundation of Southeast Tennessee, where he serves as the executive director. Epilepsy has been a signature wound for soldiers returning from Afghanistan, he said.
From there, he helped start the Southeast Tennessee Veterans Coalition.
"The V.A. can't provide everything, so the coalition can help provide other things that a veteran and their family may need," McCamish said.
He has been involved with the Navy League of the United States-Chattanooga chapter, Wreaths Across America, Veteran Force 1, Chattanooga area Veterans Council, former Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Marsha Blackburn's Military Academies Nominations Committee and other foundations.
He was the parade marshal for the 2015 Chattanooga Armed Forces Day Parade and will serve as the parade's chairman in 2020. He also twice coordinated the visit of USS LST 325, the World War II ship that was recently docked at Ross's Landing and participated in the D-Day invasion. He was Chattanooga's 2019 Veteran of the Year.
But most proudly, McCamish and former Friends of the Festival Executive Director Chip Baker created "Chattanooga Unite — A Tribute on the River" for the fallen servicemen killed in the terrorist attacks in Chattanooga on July 16, 2015. The Sept. 16, 2015, event was attended by an estimated 80,000 people and raised $467,335.13 for the families of the five servicemen.
"We wanted to unite the community," he said. "I was worried about too many fragmented events and wanted a united celebration."
McCamish spent 27 years in the Navy after receiving a degree from the University of Chattanooga. Much of that time was spent on destroyers, he said. He served in Vietnam from 1967-1969, when he worked in a demilitarized zone checking ships to ensure there weren't weapons being smuggled into South Vietnam.
"I've always been very patriotic, extremely patriotic," he said. "It was ingrained in me with my father having served in the military. It was a way of life: wanting to fight for our country, for our freedoms."