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Retired Lt. Col. Michael Vickrey and Specialist Chase Vickrey (Photography Rarchar S. Tortorello)

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Father’s Love of Country Forges Son’s Military Path

"His Influence Was Instrumental in Choosing a Life of Service to My Country and Community"

Military families are no different than their civilian counterparts: both are caring, fun-loving and community-focused with parents dedicated to their professions. And yet, we still hold them in awe for their strengths and shared sacrifices when their parents have answered the call to serve for the greater good.

Retired Lt. Col. Michael Vickrey smiles with fondness as he recounts his 33-year military service culminating as an engineering officer with tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 and Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012. Among his awards are the Bronze Star and Defense Meritorious Service Medal for service in combat zones.

While deployed in Iraq, Michael’s vehicle missed an improvised explosive device or IED while on patrol in Iraq. “If it had not been for the quick thinking of my driver, the blast would have killed all of us,” stated Vickrey. “Those were dark days, and what kept me going was getting back to my family.”

Following his last tour in Afghanistan, Michael suffered through years of abuse to his body, combat injuries and three hip replacements and was medically retired in January 2015.

Military service runs deep in the Vickrey family. Like most military fathers, Michael feels a great sense of pride when his son Chase followed his lead and enlisted into the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

The possibilities of success are endless for many young people choosing a branch to serve. The majority attain rank and responsibilities quickly through merit, often with fast promotions, education and admiration of their families and friends.

The younger Vickrey served in the Infantry from 2009-2015, choosing the same career field as his father, even attending the same basic training at Fort Benning.

Specialist (E-4) Chase Vickrey’s earliest recall of his father’s influence was in second grade when they worked together during the May 9, 2003, central Oklahoma tornadoes. Seeing both his parents in action cemented his decision to follow in their footsteps.

“I wanted to give back, to help my community and saw the National Guard as a great opportunity to do so,” he states. “Learning from my dad that my grandfather and other family members also served just seemed like the most logical course for me to continue the tradition.” 

Chase is in his senior year at the University of Central Oklahoma and is working toward a teaching degree. 

Michael’s real fondness shines when thinking about his sons, especially Chase. “Seeing him maturing into a young man with values, discipline and leadership brings tears,” he states.

“Serving your country is the most significant honor anybody can have. It has made me proud of America and to serve this great nation, to watch my son serve and continue to learn from what the military has taught him. I tell him and my other two boys, be a better man than me, be a better leader than me, be a better father than me.”

Michael continues, “Learn from my mistakes and build on it so that you can do better and be better.”

Michael volunteered for Afghanistan to be with his son and, as fate would have it, was assigned during the same period. Both were deployment-ready at the same mobilization station, Camp Shelby, Mississippi. “I cannot tell you how proud I was of my son, even though I was only able to see him a few times at Camp Shelby; it was quality time spent with him.”

“To see him as a soldier, a young man serving his country alongside his dad, that will make any father proud of his kid. These are the things we taught our boys, to stand up for themselves and others and honor America.”

Rarchar S. Tortorello was awarded the Air Force’s Airman’s Medal for heroism involving voluntary risk of life after the largest terrorist attack against American forces on June 25, 1996, at Khobar Towers, Saudi Arabia. Actively supporting the veteran community nationwide, he appeals disability claims up to the Board of Veterans Appeals. His hobbies include writing, traveling and drone photography.

  • Retired Lt. Col. Michael Vickrey and Specialist Chase Vickrey (Photography Rarchar S. Tortorello)