My grandpa was born on 3/4/1947. He grew up in Royal Oak, Michigan, with his parents, Jack and Susan, and little brother, Stephen. He went by Mike, and his close friends called him “Woody.” He enjoyed riding bikes, and even got his teeth completely knocked out playing hockey. He enlisted in the Navy on October 5, 1965, in his senior year of high school, and was forced by the school to drop out. He earned his GED during his enlistment. He was stationed for recruit training in San Diego, California. He was then on the USS Independence, then the USS Aldebaran, and back onto the USS independence from July 1966-October 1966, where he was sent to Great Lakes, Illinois for BPE School from October 1966-December 1966, and Engineman Class A School from December 1966-February 1967. He was then sent to Guantánamo Bay from February 1967-March 1968, where he was then on the USS Havre. He finished his service on the USS Havre and was honorably discharged into the Naval Reserves on October 3, 1969, and ended his time with the reserves on June 6, 1971. He married my grandmother, Sandy, in 1972. They had 3 children together, Tim, Jennifer, and Tony, 2 surrogate children for 2 different families, and were foster parents to 47 hard to place children. My grandpa worked many different jobs, a crane repairman, a industrial kitchen installer, a semi truck driver, among many other things. He retired from truck driving in 2012. He had 7 biological grandchildren, and 6 “grandchildren” from a foster daughter who stayed close. After his retirement, he enjoyed spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren, and taking care of his disabled adult son, Tim. He was diagnosed with lung and throat cancer in September 2017. His oldest son, Tim, died in November 2017, while he (Mike) was in the hospital with complications from radiation. My grandpa spent the next few months in the hospital. He was able to spend Christmas 2017 with his family, his oldest granddaughter’s birthday, New Years 2018, his wife’s birthday, and their anniversary with his family, and passed away on February 3rd, 2018, in the hospital from complications with his cancer and diabetes. He was cremated and a joint celebration of his and his son’s lives took place on his birthday, March 4th, 2018. He would have been 71.
My grandpa, along with my grandma, raised me from the age of 9 months. I am their oldest grandchild. My name is Katie. My grandpa was one of the most amazing people you could have had the chance to spend 5 minutes with. He had catalogs of stories to tell, to anyone who would listen. He loved to tell stories about his days in the Navy, and hanging out with the guys when they got to go off base. He was a jolly guy, with a “dad joke” sense of humor. He was a self proclaimed “Jack of all trades- master of none.” If you asked him how he was doing, he’d always say “Not worth a damn, never have been, never will be, and not changing for anyone.” He told everyone “Call me Mike, Grandpa Mike, Old Man, just anything but Roger.” He loved the Looney Tunes character “Roadrunner,” and the superstar Garth Brooks. I had the amazing chance to see Garth Brooks live with my grandpa, my first concert, and his last. We went to Tigers baseball games, Red Wings hockey games, and I even got to see Riverdance live for his first time, and my second. That was something I’d always wanted to see with my grandpa, as we both shared a love for the Irish tradition. My grandpa was the proudest veteran. He was my biggest fan, my most influential supporter, and my best friend. I could talk to him about literally anything, and he always understood me. My grandpa taught me many things that will stay with me forever, and many sayings I use a lot today. I live my life trying to make good choices based on what I can imagine him saying to me. My grandpa was the most amazing person I ever had the chance to know. I thank him, and every single serviceman, and servicewoman, who are serving today, and yesterday.