ORLANDO, FL, US U.S. Army
2LT, CO A, 1ST BDE SPECIAL TROOPS BN, 1ST BCT, FORT CAMPBELL, KY 06/06/2010, KHOGYANI DISTRICT, AFGHANISTAN
Mike McGahan’s loved ones describe him as a born leader and an exceptional young man. The Orlando man’s desire to serve his country led him to join the U.S. Army after graduating from the University of Florida two years ago. He became second lieutenant and led a platoon of soldiers in Afghanistan. McGahan, 23, was with those soldiers when he died Sunday.
On Tuesday, his family attended a ceremony at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where his body arrived with those of four other service members killed in recent days.
“He loved the Army,” said his father, Tim McGahan. “He felt young people today should serve their country.”
The Department of Defense said the soldier was killed in Nangarhar province, east of the capital Kabul. The family learned he was shot by insurgents in a firefight while his platoon investigated a report of an unmanned aircraft.
“Someone yelled, ‘It’s clear. You can get up.’ Everyone got up but Mike,” said his grandfather, Sam McGahan of Orlando.
The family is struggling to cope with the loss of the Olympia High graduate, who married his high school sweetheart, Miranda, 23, in November. She plans to attend medical school in the fall.
“They had a clear path of what a great life would be,” his father said. “But they both knew what the dangers were.”
McGahan joined the army in 2008 shortly after graduating college with a degree in political science and minor in history. He followed a family history of military service. Both grandfathers served in World War II, which pushed McGahan’s interest in military history.
“He wanted to do something bigger than himself,” his father said. “He knew the dangers and still wanted to serve.” Mike McGahan wanted to be a career officer, according to his uncle, Sam McGahan Jr. “He was an exceptional young man,” Sam McGahan said. “He was popular . . . .He was a leader.”
McGahan was assigned to the 1st Brigade Special Troop Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team 101st Airborne Division, based in Fort Campbell, Ky. He was deployed in April but kept in touch with family as much as possible. He called his grandparents and often sent e-mails. They responded by sending packages to him and e-mailing pictures, including a photo of his name listed on a military wall of honor at their church. McGahan spoke to his grandparents on Saturday — the day before his death — about how proud he was to hand out combat badges to his platoon.
“He called us and was in good spirit,” said his grandmother, Katy McGahan.
Mike McGahan is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. McGahan also is survived by his mother, Carolyn, of Orlando, and his brother, Max, of Orlando