Mike M In Memorium

Mike McPhee was laid to rest today in Willamette National Cemetery in Portland Oregon. To us here at the Rott he was a long time LC and a prolific commenter who had a common sense insight, high intellect, and a straight forward way of making his point known. To me personally he was a dear online friend whose advice, experience, and wisdom that he so willingly shared  have made me a better person, in every way. To others he was a comrade in arms who had faced the same relentless enemy in Vietnam and had gone on to become steadfast and loyal friends. But most of all, to his family he was a beloved husband and father who instilled in his two sons the same work ethic, sense of duty, and love of country that he held so dear.

Mike was a grunt who served with Golf company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines in the Republic of Vietnam in 1966-67, during which time he fought at Razorback Ridge and the Rockpile, names familiar to those who were there and those of us who wished to carry on the legacy of what they did there. Returning to CONUS in February 1967 he became a troop handler at Infantry Training Regiment Regiment, Camp Pendleton, preparing Marines not much younger then he was for the rigors of combat. He also  was a sea service Marine, finishing his hitch in the Corps as a member of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Hornet. After the Corps he was a police officer with the Portland P.D., retiring after 26 years in 1997 as a detective.

This lifetime of service was indicative of the man that Mike was. He cared deeply for others, and was always willing to lend a hand or a few words of valuable advice. I learned a great deal from Mike, but mostly that the reason we, Marines, cops, sheepdogs, do what we do is out of not only a sense of duty, but of love. Not the romantic, poetic love of a sonnet, but the true, deeper love of your fellow fellow man that God commands of us.

Mike was also the stereotypically humble Marine. He never bragged about his own achievements or exploits. In fact it was only yesterday that I learned from his close friend Mike R, who had served with him aboard the Hornet, that he had received the Purple Heart during Vietnam. It just wasn’t the sort of thing that Mike would voluntarily tell about himself. That humility was evident in a conversation we had when my son Crumb Crunchie went downrange. Mike expressed to me his pride and admiration for “Boot” and his fellow Marines. When I told him that it was we, mine and Crumb’s generation of Marines, who held him and his generation in awe for what they had done, he countered by saying that he had never stormed a beach under concentrated enemy fire the way the WWII Marines had, or charged through a wheat field swept by German machine guns like at Belleau Wood. He refused to accept my feeble attempt at paying him the honor he deserved, and instead deflected it to those he felt were truly deserving of it. He even tried to tell me that it was my generation of Marines who deserved praise for lifting the stigma off of the military. My and my sons service pale in comparison to his, but by praising those who followed him he not only passed the torch, he rekindled it.

I think that it was that same humility that led him to keeping his cancer a secret to all but his family. He was a sheepdog, a warrior who served and sacrificed in silence, neither seeking nor accepting accolades he had earned, preferring to give to others instead, whether they needed it more than he did or not. When he was fighting cancer he fought it the way he had lived all of his life, without burdening others.

Mike was an inspiration to me, setting the standard that I strive to meet. I am a better man for having known him, and am honored that he called me a friend.

Mike R recently told me that he hopes that Mike is the Sergeant of the Guard when it comes his own time to check in with St. Pete, he’ll have a better chance of getting in. I hope so too, but we had better be squared away when we do.

Requiest In Pace and Semper Fidelis Mike, you are going to be sorely missed my friend.

 

23 comments

  1. 1
    LC Sir Rurik, K.o.E. growls and barks:

    Mike, my firend, sleep restfully.You have served and fought long and honorably. Instead of flowers, I’ve sent a donation to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. You shall remail an inspiration to us all, not only for your courage and wisdom, but also for your grace during your last months. Though we wish we’d had a chance to say farewell. I shall look for you when I finally make my last PCS.

  2. 2
    HempRopeAndStreetlight growls and barks:

    /salute

  3. 3
    irish19 growls and barks:

    Fair winds and following seas.

  4. 4
    Tallulah growls and barks:

    God bless Mike, and comfort his loved ones.

    The Marines’ Prayer

    “Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones, and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family.

    Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my Country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold.

    If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again.

    Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.”

  5. 5
    BigDogg growls and barks:

    Rest well, friend … we will see each other again someday. God bless his family with comfort and peace in the coming weeks.

  6. 6
    The Irish Dragon growls and barks:

    RIP, Brother.

  7. 7
    LC/IB PrimEviL growls and barks:

    RIP, Mike. You are already missed. May the sod of Fiddler’s Green be warm and soft beneath you.
    LC/IB PrimEviL recently posted..Flying LowMy Profile

  8. 8
    Library Czar growls and barks:

    RIP Brother

  9. 9
    LC LucysDaddy--Imperial Tire Provider growls and barks:

    RIP Mike. Your posts and your humor will be missed in the Empire. May your family find peace and may you walk through the halls of Valhalla with your warrior friends.

    I miss your wit already.

  10. 10
    LC Mike in Chi growls and barks:

    RIP, Loyal Citizen Mike M.
    Mike H.
    Chicago

  11. 11
    PromptCritical growls and barks:

    Sorry for the crappy cell phone pic but here was our little spread honoring him at home after the service.

    Again, thank you for all the kind words and support. I had no idea he was so well-known and respected on this site. I’m glad you all got to know him so well.

    I only hope to be able to live up to his example.

  12. 12
    PromptCritical growls and barks:

    Also, some may be interested to note the items that we sent with him:
    His steelhead rod,
    His hunting knife.
    His Hornet MarDet hat.
    A Marty Robbins LP “Gunfighter Ballads”
    A well used VHS copy of “True Grit”.
    Pictures of his and my mom’s wedding, me, and my brother.
    A bottle of Leatherneck Lager.

  13. 13
    LC Proud Infidel growls and barks:

    RIP. Peace, and G-D Bless.

  14. 14
    LC HJ Caveman82952 growls and barks:

    Good Bye, Sir….you set a sterling example for all of us. RIP, you have my respect and best wishes……

  15. 15
    LC Grammar Czar, G.L.O.R. growls and barks:

    PromptCritical,

    Anytime you want to grab yourself an LC (loyal citizen) designation and decide you want to hang out here regularly, you are more than welcome to do so. If you DO, however, don’t open ANY links from Radical Redneck or BC. Don’t say you weren’t warned…

  16. 16
    pedro4 growls and barks:

    I never served. I thank those that have. And reading this eulogy made me realize that there is a level of friendship far beyond anything I have ever experienced.

  17. 17

    PromptCritical @ #:
    I’m sure that Mike would have loved that spread Prompt. The rifle is the perfect touch, I remember very clearly how ecstatic he was when you guys gave it to him.

    I have no doubt that you will make him very proud in trying to live up to his example. It’s a high bar to reach for sure, but even if you fall a little short you’ll be a better person than most for even trying.

    And I second Grammar Czar, you need to hang around with here with us some more. We’ll try not to corrupt you too bad.
    LC 0311 Sir Crunchie I.M.H., K.o.E. recently posted..Mike M In MemoriumMy Profile

  18. 18
    PromptCritical growls and barks:

    Details on the photo (starting from left, rear):
    A photo of him standing at the base of the Brokentop crater where his friends and he went deer hunting for many years.
    Holding an impressive catch of fish at East Lake.
    His home-made shadow box featuring his ribbons, medals, rank and Big Red One patch.
    Graduation photo from I believe was the seagoing marine training. Correct me if I messed that up.
    Old picture of deer hunting camp with his friends.
    Portrait taken when he returned from Vietnam.
    Group photo of his Marine Detachment aboard USS Hornet.
    Steelhead Fishing on the Deschutes River.
    The last photo taken of him before we found out he was sick.
    End of shift BS’ing with his cop buddies outside of SE Precinct.
    Leaving the USS Hornet. The cover is the one he was wearing in the picture.
    Picture of Dad at a MarDet reunion. It was a very good picture, but I had to crop someone out of it. I hope Bob O’Malley doesn’t mind.
    His M1A rifle. I didn’t buy this for him but he did buy it from another gun dealing Marine that got a good deal on it. Maybe Crunchie was referring to the Springfield 1911 GI I bought him.
    Funeral Service guestbook
    His Portland Police Retired badge.
    From the Service: National Ensign, three shell casings, and card from the 1st Marine Division Association signed by veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

    Alas, I was unable to locate his “Big Red Finger” patch he had me grab on Ebay. I’ll keep an eye out.

  19. 19

    PromptCritical @ #:
    You’re right Prompt, I got the rifle and the 1911 mixed up. There was so much that he told me about over the years…

    That spread really encapsulated all that Mike held so dear, what and who he was. I pray that the memories of him that it all represents offer you and your family at least a small measure of solace during your loss. A friend of mine once shared with me an old Cherokee saying. “We come into the wold crying while those who love us smile, and we leave smiling while those who love us cry.” Your dad is Home now, happy and free from pain. The fact that there are so many of us left behind mourning him is a testament to what a great man he was.
    LC 0311 Sir Crunchie I.M.H., K.o.E. recently posted..Mike M In MemoriumMy Profile

  20. 20
    FrJim, Imperial Chaplain growls and barks:

    Rest in peace. No one has any greater love than that he lay down his life for his friends. Mike’s life of service for us all qualifies.

    -Jim+

    /SALUTE

  21. 21
    nealinnevada growls and barks:

    For Mike, his family, and LCs…

    “SONG OF THE RIVER”

    The snow melts on the mountain
    And the water runs down to the spring,
    And the spring in a turbulent fountain,
    With a song of youth to sing,
    Runs down to the riotous river,
    And the river flows on to the sea,
    And the water again
    Goes back in rain
    To the hills where it used to be.
    And I wonder if Life’s deep mystery
    Isn’t much like the rain and the snow
    Returning through all eternity
    To the places it used to know.
    For life was born on the lofty heights
    And flows in a laughing stream
    To the river below
    Whose onward flow
    Ends in a peaceful dream.
    And so at last,
    When our life has passed
    And the river has run its course,
    It again goes back,
    O’er the selfsame track,
    To the mountain which was its source.

    So why prize life
    Or why fear death,
    Or dread what is to be?
    The river ran its allotted span
    Till it reached the silent sea.
    Then the water harked back to the mountaintop
    To begin its course once more.

    So we shall run the course begun
    Till we reach the silent shore,
    Then revisit earth in a pure rebirth
    From the heart of the virgin snow.
    So don’t ask why we live or die,
    Or wither, or when we go,
    Or wonder about the mysteries
    That only God may know.

    by William Randolph Hearst

  22. 22
    LC Jackboot IC/A growls and barks:

    Mike you’re not alone. Look up our dear old friend Warspite. He’ll give you the lay of the land up there, and never was there a finer man than him. Rest in peace brother.
    LC Jackboot IC/A recently posted..Mike M In MemoriumMy Profile

  23. 23
    LC Ogrrre growls and barks:

    Rest in peace, Marine. You’ve earned it. And may God grant solace and healing now to the family who will eventually rejoin you.