Mike is an Army Special Forces commander who received a Bronze Star Medal with Valor device for his actions when insurgents ambushed his squad in a dry riverbed in a rural Afghanistan town. In the face of two (and possibly three) enemy machine guns firing from roughly 30 meters away, Mike fought back, armed with only a pistol, and despite the fact that he had no helmet. After darting behind a wall for safety, Mike saw that an Afghan sergeant major – a man that Mike had grown to respect – was gravely injured in the riverbed, so Mike ran into the kill zone to try to save his life. The Afghan died in Mike’s arms as he carried him toward the squad’s medic. Mike later darted into the kill zone again to recover night-vision goggles, an invaluable piece of equipment for American troops.
The death of the Afghan sergeant major affected Mike, particularly because he learned that the man’s sons had been sent to madrassas – the religious schools that radicalize young Muslims – because his family could not afford any other school. So Mike began wiring money to the Afghan’s widow – thousands and thousands of dollars of his own money – to help the family and make sure that the sergeant major’s sons would not be forced to attend the radical schools.
Mike received another Bronze Star Medal with valor for his actions during a second ambush during the 2006 deployment. He continues to serve in the U.S. Army and, when he is not on deployment abroad, he lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C.