Fry, Michael D.

Michael D. Fry
EHS Class of 1962
Retired Army Col. Michael D. Fry, was born in Wisconsin on September 11, 1944, died at 61 on April 22, 2005, in San Pedro, California  The list of his life accomplishments begins early in Escanaba, Michigan, which he considered his home town. Elected class president all four years of High School, he was also active in Orange and Black (a high school service organization), and was selected to play the male lead in the senior play. He lettered in football and tennis and was concurrently a National Merit Scholarship semi-finalist. Rotary honored him with its Rotary Boy watch award. He then graduated number one in his class academically.

At West Point Military Academy he excelled, graduating in the top 5% of his class and picked infantry as his branch and Ranger School as an extra qualification. He was deployed to Viet Nam not long after graduation. Nam comprised his first episode of outstanding service to country where, in an attempt to retrieve a wounded man under his command, he was hit by mortar fire, came very close to dying, almost lost his leg and was hospitalized in Japan and the US for nearly a year till he healed. As a result of his service in Nam he was the recipient of of the Silver Star Award, the Distinguished Service Medal and a Purple heart.

But because of his injury, Mike lost his combat ready status, so the Army sent him to Harvard for a Masters degree in International Relations. Following that he received a second Masters degree in International Relations from the Geneva School of International Relations in Geneva, Switzerland.

While teaching at West Point he was picked to represent the Army on the National Security Council, reporting to Admiral Brent Skowcroft, who reported to the President of the US. Mike appears to have done his job to such a valued degree that he was continued on in the position through three presidents—Reagan, GHW Bush and Clinton.

While on the National Security Council and working out of his office in the basement of the White House, Mike headed up the team responsible for bringing forth the 1968 Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed by 117 nations. His service on the National Security Council comprised the second aspect of his service to Country. He retired from the position in 1993, having again served remarkably and settled in San Pedro, California on the outskirts of Los Angeles.

We can get a glimpse of how he served Country the third time by a review of the list of organizations who sent a representative to the Honor Ceremony held for Mike on June 17, 2006, at Fort MacArthur, California. Eulogies were delivered by:
  • Corey Karl, Mike's Little Brother of Big Brothers/Big Sisters 
  • Robert Valentine, Esq; Beacon House Association 
  • Penelope Thomson, RN, Trinity Care Hospice 
  • Dara Cerwonda, Operation Jump Start 
  • Tina Smith, Operation Jump Start 
  • Val Parker, Power for Youth 
  • Pierre Hazel, Power for Youth 
  • Lisa Ferguson, All South Bay Central Office 
  • Liz Schindler Johnson, Grand Vision Foundation 
  • The Warner Grand Theater Arts and Cultural Center.

By his own admission this third aspect of service to his Country was closest to his heart because it dealt more directly with people and especially with those disadvantaged or disabled. This was shown in the way he parceled out his volunteer hours, with the programs surrounding Beacon House getting most of his attention. He seemed to genuinely enjoy his working hours, taking calls on the crisis line and meeting directly with those in need. . Another favorite was his work with his “little brother.” Hospice was a different world, but the Hospice staff considred him an excellent volunteer, eager to help and generous with his limited time.

Start to finish, civilian leader as early as 8th grade; military combat leader, military peacetime leader; and full circle back to showing us how to serve our neediest citizens through civilian helping organizations.

Mike Fry served his country well in three different ways, and Escanaba should be proud at this time of our Esky 150 Celebration to count him among our military heroes and outstanding citizens.

Submitted by Jeanne Rose