I worked with Mike at Provincial Reconstruction Team Nangarhar, March to November 2012. His sense of humor was infectious and his passion for the mission was unmatched. He was famous for leading the PRT on the toughest missions into the farthest corners of the province to take care of the people of Afghanistan. On our last mission together, he marched the team over 10 km into the most northern mountains of the province. At the final objective, a very old village elder told us, "In all the years of the British, the Russians, and now the Americans, no one has ever come this far to visit our village." Mike was fearless and always went the distance. He was a warrior through and through, and we couldn't of done it without him. He will be missed.
I remember meeting Mike in our office in Abu Dhabi on his first day of work. He seemed so serious. I was soon to discover that his serious exterior would burst open into a loud and effervescent laugh that always made me smile! I worked with him for nearly 3 years and was impressed and motivated by his decision to leave to go to Afganistan to help the people rebuild their country. He wanted to make a difference. The world would be a much better place with more people like him in it.
I had the honor and pleasure of serving with Mike in eastern Afghanistan. I would like you to know that Afghanistan, the United States, and everyone who was fortunate enough to spend time with him were the better for it. I remember spending a few hours with Mike the first time we met, talking about how we could improve the effectiveness of our assistance. The senior USAID officer for eastern Afghanistan asked Mike what we could do to really affect change and improve lives in Nangarhar. With complete confidence and respect, Mike did not hesitate and laid out an honest and well-reasoned plan. A few days later when we were back in Bagram, he called to ask what we were going to do to make those changes we asked about – offering to do whatever it took from his side to make it happen. It was clear that Mike was a true leader and dedicated to making a positive contribution. I also quickly came to appreciate his keen sense of humor and knowledgeable worldview. Your family raised a great son and a true gentleman. My heart and thoughts are with you.