Michael G. Mulich, 1938-2005
Mike Mulich passed away on October 4th in Augusta, Georgia, from cancer at the age of 66, leaving behind loving family and friends.
The Augusta Chronicle death notice only touches on the life of Mike Mulich. But those of us who served with him in the U.S. Army remember a great guy, a craftsman in his job, a sincere friend, a dedicated leader and a valued mentor. Although Mike did not complete his entire military career in the Army Security Agency, the time he did spend with ASA was notable.
Many will agree that he was one of the finest Direction Finding operators (MOS 056) to ply that challenging trade. He loved Morse Code and could bang out a "schedule" on the manual key with speed and quality that was rare. Mike worked hard and played hard. He knew when to be serious and when to have fun. As a leader, he insisted on high-quality performance and knew how to give constructive criticism without it being resented. He wasn't perfect: He could be as stubborn as a mule; he could drive you crazy. But just when you were ready to explode, you realized that he was only breaking your chops. Mike didn't have a malicious bone in his body.
Mike's military career began with enlistment in 1956 and training as a radio operator. He then was assigned to an LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized) based out of Seattle doing resupply operations in conjunction with the Navy in the rough seas off Alaska and the Aleutians. When his enlistment was up Mike took a short two or three months look at civilian life and decided to re-up in the Army. ASA got its hands on him, made an 056 out of him without making him go through Fort Devens, and sent him overseas.
He was assigned to the 10th ASA Field Station in Kyoto, Japan working flash position mostly. In fact, he said, Mulich-brokenneckAwhen that operation closed down he was the last 056 there and sent the last closing message to NCS (Net Control Station). From there he went to G Division at Fort Devens, working for Dale Potts (G Div NCOIC) making code target training tapes for the DF course. After less than a year at Devens, Mike was transferred to Clark AFB in the Philippines, working the DF Site out beyond the runway. This is where an unknown buddy pushed him in the base pool and Mike ended up with a broken neck.
Notwithstanding the great time in the Philippines, he was fortunate enough to be picked as one of the first four 056 Direction Finding Operators assigned to Thailand -- namely Bangkok. During that assignment Mike was promoted and set up the original Ubon site, which according to him, was relocated a number of times because the ground was full of iron ore which affected DF accuracy. Mike also was in on the choosing of the Chieng Mai site before getting in trouble with an idiot Operations Officer in Bangkok, getting busted. But every dark cloud has a silver lining: Mike was "punished" by getting sent to sunny Italy, arriving at Det A in Ravenna in August, 1962. He remained there till mid-1965 when he was transferred to Det B in Lecce in Southern Italy as NCOIC. Not long after that, the Lecce site was closed and the operation was relocated to San Vito AFB FLR-9 site where Mike continued as the Army NCOIC.May 28 1966
Before leaving Ravenna Mike met his future wife, Franca, who was working at a restaurant in the nearby resort town of Milano Marittima. They were married in 1966. Under ASA regulations, if you married a foreign national you probably would lose your security clearance, and that's what happened to Mike. He was released from ASA in 1967 and reassigned to the Signal Corps.
For the rest of his Army career his postings included Fort Jackson, SC; Fort Gordon, GA; Germany; and Korea. He retired from the Army at Fort Gordon in 1976 with twenty years service and settled down with his family in nearby Augusta.
In retirement Mike dedicated much of his time to ham radio, hooking up with hams all over the world, communicating with them in the arcane and dying language of Morse Code or "cw" as it's known. He wouldn't stoop to "fone" mode, feeling that was for sissies. He also devoted a lot of time tracking down and keeping in touch with many of his old ASA buddies. He hosted the first reunion of the Vicenza/Aviano/Ravenna DF contingent at his home in Augusta in 2000 and attended subsequent reunions in Myrtle Beach and Charleston, S.C.
But finally, unable to combat cancer's cruel assault, Mike passed on October 4th, only four days before his birthday. Only a week before his death he was cheerful and positive in his outlook. But it was not to be. In addition to his loving family and friends, he also leaves behind a bunch of sad Army buddies, but a host of happy memories.
Mike at the 2003 All ASA Reunion in Myrtle Beach
If you served with Mike you are invited to share your memories of him on this website by filling in the form below. Let's make this a fitting memorial. Tell your stories about Mike -- how he touched your life, what you remember about him, what kind of a guy he was. If you have any photos you'd like to share, contact Tom Harris via the website. Let's make this a nice memorial to a great guy.
Eventually, this page and links will be recorded on CD-Rom and presented to the family with our thanks for having been privileged to count Mike as a Friend.
Jim Moran & Tom Harris
October 14, 2005
Bob Giddens: Jim/Tom, your remarks captured the essence of how we all felt about Mike. I knew him from late 63 until he left in 65. At the Ravenna Detachment, Mike was looked at as the older, wiser figure. He didn't always tell you what you wanted to hear, but he was usually right. Respect is a word that comes to mind. Mike earned the respect, not only of the detachment members, but also the Italian community we lived in by the way he conducted himself as a professional soldier and a human being. Mike had a warm, compassionate side that we all benefited from at one time or another. He also had a blunt, direct side that helped straighten out this young fool more than once. We knew that he cared for all of us, and he did as much as anyone I know towards making us the solid team that we were. - A good man and a good friend - he will be missed. My deepest condolences to the family.
Jim Moran: Many fond memories of Mike: - - - The time we got stranded at the pizza place at Milano Marittima and walked and hitched all the way back to the hotel. We slept in a grassy field along the road somewheree. - - - How Mike use to try to make a better operator out of me by harassing me during a sked, when he would pour water on my head, pull my chair away from the desk, tickle me, etc. while I was trying to pound out the sked. - - - How his Morse code sounded like it was machine-sent. - - - All the nights and the many conversations over pitchers of beer. - - I always felt Mike was my big brother. I always felt safe if Mike was around. If I had a question or a problem, I knew Mike could solve it. The Italians loved him -- and he spoke Italian much better than he let on. - - I think his sense of decency and principle were the key to everything he did. In the past few years Tom and I would often speak to Mike via the Yahoo Messenger. I'm already missing those great conversations.
Jim Moran: I enjoyed Ravenna so much, that when my enlistment was up, I was going to extend my tour for another year. Mike took me aside and said: "Look Dummy (or words to that effect) --if you extend, the Army won't keep you in Ravenna. They'll ship you right off to Vietnam and you may never come home from there. You've had two good years here in Ravenna. You've done your duty for your country. So, take your happy memories and go home while you can, and get on with your life." Well, that's what I did and several months after I got out of the army, of course, the war in Nam heated up and a lot of guys, including a few 056's I guess, never came home. I always kidded Mike that he saved my life. I sure wish I could have returned the favor at the end, when cancer got him.
Mac McKusick: I only knew Mike a short time in Ravenna before I went back to Ft. Devens but we chatted may times over the internet and at past reunions. We will all miss him. - God Bless!! - -
Mac & Karen McKusick
John T. Rhuark (Hoob): I left Italy before Mike arrived but have heard many good things about him. He must have been one hell of a man.
Rich Anderson: Mike was my first boss when I arrived in Italy in the fall of 1965. He was therefor about four or five months when he left to get married. We made contact again about six years ago over the internet. My wife and I had the pleasure of visiting with him in Myrtle Beach and Charles. We enjoyed his company. I would occasionally talk with him on the internet. - The lasttime I talked to him it was obvious he was not doing to well. The last thing he said to me was "tell Toni I am praying for her" - I was impressed by how considerate this one considering he was notdoing well and yet showed concern for others. I will remember him for this show of compassion. I did not know him real well but I think I learned a lot about himin that short conversation. He was a good person to be sure. - Our condolences to all his family and friends. - Rich and Toni Anderson
John "Perk" Perkins: Mike was My NCOIC when I arrived in San Vito Italy in the fall of 1965. I was billeted at the Air Force Station for a couple of months until my wife joined me in December of 1965. I remember her arrival. it was during the tail end of a severe storm and I didn't know the way to the airport. Mike drove me there in a little two seat Fiat. My wife arrived and we drove back with her on my lap during a blinding rainstorm. When we arrived at the apartment I had rented it was flooded. No electricity, no water pump, no water. Mike arranged for the fire department form the AFS to pump the roof tank full so we could shower. Always willing to go the extra mile to help a friend. - - He was a great guy and a good mentor. We had many memorable times together, both on and off base. He taught me a lot about responsibility, self esteem and pride in our country. He will be truly missed. Visit my website for more info on Mike and San Vito. John & Anne Perkins -
Bian Alpert: I was only stationed at Brindisi for a short time. During that time Mike was the NCOIC and it sure depressed me to hear of his passing. I keep thinking about the time he took me out for my military drivers license test. We were still at the site outside of San Pancrazio. He had me drive around the field in a deuce and a half for awhile and finally told me to drive back to the other trucks. I drove back at full throttle coming to a stop between two other trucks. There was not much room between them. I thought I would shake him up a bit but he just calmly signed the license, handed it to me and got out of the cab
Maurice Kollstedt: I was not stationed with Mike but met him at the Ga renunion and chatted with him on the internet. He will be missed. I just got back from Ravenna and read this. I do not know if Willy Graziani was a friend of his or not but I will send this notice in Italy.
Charlie Hodges: I remember Mike as just coming to Ravenna from Thailand. I really enjoyed his crazy up river war stories which gave me the idea that ASA duty wasn't always the great time we had in Italy. I thought I was the last guy to marry an Italian but now that I'm aware of this site I see I was not. P.S. I'm still married to Fanny.
Tom Harris: In 1999, while at home, I received a telephone call. It was Mike Mulich; my 35 years plus in the past Ravenna Detachment trick-partner, room mate and friend. Within a few minutes it was as if there was no time lapse of 35 years, more like a 15-day leave between the last time and now. Mike was all the things said about him in the comments above, but mainly, bumps and warts included, he was a friend. He understood his bumps and warts as well as he understood those of his friends, knew they were not particularly important and moved and looked forward cheerfully always.
Generally speaking active on website comments are closed for this page. However, if you served with Mike, or you are a family member, send me an email with your comments and I will add them to the file.