SNYDER, TX, US
SSG, COMPANY C, 1ST BATTALION, 501ST INFANTRY, FORT RICHARDSON, AK
09/06/2009, FOB SHARNANA, AFGHANISTAN
From Michael’s wife Ashley:
Michael was raised in Snyder, Texas where he played football for the local high school. He graduated from Snyder High School in 2002. Michael was the only son with four sisters, so he was spoiled even when he became a man. He loved anything to do with the great outdoors. Michael loved to hunt, fish, go camping with the family, ride his dirt bike and four wheeler, and skydive.
When he was sixteen, his parents gave him the gift of a sky diving experience. He loved it so much that he knew he wanted to do that after he graduated high school. After graduating he enlisted into the Army. Michael and I met shortly after. We married in April 2005. We had a son, Jaden (now 5 1/2) and a daughter, Cameron (now 21 months). Our children were the light of their daddy’s life. He loved them both dearly. He always took Jaden with him, even running errands. He looked forward to when he could take both of our children to do things together, but never got the chance.
Michael was the love of my life and my best friend. We spent as much time together as we could when Michael was home. He loved his job. He had re-enlisted and then we were sent to Ft. Richardson, Alaska. We looked at that as an adventure. Little did we know that he would be deployed for the third time 1 year after we got there. Michael had been on two tours to Iraq. He somehow knew that the deployment to Afghanistan would be different. Our children were 4 and 3 months when Michael was deployed. Michael came home for two weeks R & R in August 2009. He was still grieving the loss of a dear friend and brother who had been killed 5 weeks earlier while they were on a mission. Michael had seen him die.
While he was home, the whole family went camping and spent as much time together as we could. He and I traveled to Las Vegas. It would be our last trip together. He knew he had to go back and that he had a job to do, but he didn’t want to leave myself or our children. He told us that he knew that he wouldn’t make it back from Afghanistan this time. His greatest fear was stepping onto an IED the way that his friend had. We learned on a Sunday night, September 6, 2009 that Michael had done exactly the thing he feared the most. He stepped onto an IED. He didn’t die right away and fought it with everything in him. Before he died, he told his commander to tell myself and his babies that he loved us….and that he was going home.
Since Michael’s death, we have heard so many stories of his heroism. We saw an article that was written by Lt. Brian Bradshaw, Michael’s friend that was killed before him, telling about how Michael put his life at risk on a mission to help advance all of his men that were under his authority, into a safe area when they came under fire. This sounds like Michael. So many of his men have told us of how they looked up to Michael so much. There have been several babies born since his death that have been named Michael. Some of his men have gotten tattoos honoring Michael. Our communities have honored him. We found a journal in his effects that were returned to us from Afghanistan. There were only three entries. The last three days of his life. In the last entry, he told of how he had to go on a mission late that night.
He said, “This war may never end, but I have to do what I can to help these little children feel as safe as our children when they walk down the street, or go out to play”.
He loved the children, all children. This was Michael. We miss him dearly. It will be one year this coming Monday, Labor Day. Michael is missed by so many, especially his son, Jaden. Sometimes we think that Jaden watches for his daddy to come home from this mission.