“Being Part Of The Action”: A Lifetime Of Service In The Army And In State Government

William "Mike" Hale
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Mike Hale and his brother grew up in Miami, Florida. His mother had a degree in education from Columbia, and his father was an entertainer who had started out as an opera singer but transitioned to vaudeville. In high school, Mike was involved in student government and played football, and Doc Blanchard recruited him for the West Point football team. Mike played football at the academy until repeated shoulder dislocations and the resulting surgery ended his football career when he was a Cow. As a cadet, he sang with the Glee Club and Protestant Choir, enjoying getting away from the Academy on choir trips. After retiring from football, he joined the debate club based on his interest in public office and public speaking. One of his most vivid memories of his time playing football is being selected to dress for the 1958 Army-Navy game. Even though he dressed, he was so far down the depth chart that he was not issued long socks for the game (the equipment manager was short three pairs), but even so, the experience was memorable. He commissioned as an Infantry Officer and after time at Ft. Lewis, Washington, he served in Korea, which was still a very impoverished country. Returning from Korea, he earned a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Virginia, where he encountered some anti-war sentiment, and then deployed to Vietnam before returning to West Point to teach. He served in Vietnam from 1968 to 1969 with the 1st Infantry Division as both a Battalion and Brigade S3. He was pulled up to Brigade because the commander liked how he communicated with subordinate units. One of the important lessons he learned in Vietnam was how to balance the risk versus the reward in different operations. After Vietnam, he taught in the Department of Physics at West Point beginning in 1969. In 1976, he took command of the 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry in Berlin, where he observed the USMLM and SMLM teams (US and Soviet Military Liaison Mission) operating behind opposing lines during the Cold War. He retired as a Colonel in 1982 and began a second career as the Chief Information Officer for various governors in Florida and Georgia, where his greatest challenge was operating in a political environment. At the end of the interview, he reflects on his service to the nation, stating that “service was like family” and he enjoyed being part of the action. He views West Point as the core of national defense.

VIDEO DETAILS

conflicts Cold War Vietnam War
topics Army Athletics Leadership Teamwork Camaraderie Military Family Life After Military Military Techniques
interviewer David Siry
date 28 January 2022

BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS

name William "Mike" Hale
institution USMA
graduation year 1961
service Infantry
unit 1st Infantry Division; Department of Physics; 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry
specialty Physics Department
service dates 1961 1982
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