Mike was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, He attended St. Mary’s high school in Berkeley, California, graduating in 1964. Initially, college was a struggle, so he joined the Army in August of 1966.
Trained as a Military Policeman, Mike arrived in Vietnam a year later, serving his entire tour in the Central Highlands. Their camp was located just outside of Pleiku, the largest town in the area. Early duties took Mike to Kontum on a daily basis; unfortunately, at that time he never had the opportunity to visit Vinh Son or the old Wooden Church.
The unexpected occurred during his time in Vietnam; Mike developed a close, personal relationship with a group of Bahnar Montagnard children, which has lasted to this day. They are the reason he has returned to Vietnam so many times, and become a board member of VSO.
Returning to the States in August, 1968, Mike eventually graduated from Sacramento State College with a degree in English. He worked for Coca-Cola Company as a business analyst, as well as various other roles over a 26-year career, finally retiring in 2004.
Mike has a son in middle school and a daughter in high school. His wife owns a consulting company. With all this activity, “retirement” did not last long, and he took a new job with the Coors Brewing Company analyzing sales data and industry trends.
For many veterans, their Vietnam experience is something in a past they wish to forget. For others, it’s an old memory, sometimes good, most often not. Still fewer are men like me who cannot “escape” Vietnam…in fact, they don’t want to. For us, Vietnam is “alive,” a vital part of our daily lives, and staying connected in a positive way gives us a great deal of satisfaction.
Personally, Vietnam defines Mike. He can’t imagine a life without it. He is a better person because of what he learned there so long ago, and continues to discover today. His wife and son have visited Vietnam with him, and hopefully there are more visits in their future. Whether it’s spending time with their Montagnard friends in Pleiku, or saying hello to the orphans at Vinh Son Orphanage, they come home enriched.