Honoring & Remembering: PO3 3rd Class Michael David Sealey


PO3 3rd Class Michael David Sealey was born Dec. 25, 1946 to John and  Agnes Sealey of rural Vermillion.

Mike did receive a draft notice, but enlisted at the age of 19 in the US Navy on May 19, 1966.  He took his Basic Training at the Naval Training Center in San Diego, CA.  Because of his previous experience as an engine mechanic, he was assigned as a Seaman Apprentice to the Basic Propulsion and Engineering School and then received Class A Engineman training.

Following the three month of basic training, Mike shipped out from San Diego to Okinawa, USFJ (United States Forces Japan) and served as an engineman on board to whatever ship he was assigned.  The USFJ served as important strategic and logistic bases during the Vietnam War for all the US military forces.

After 18 months aboard ship in the waters off Okinawa, Mike redeployed to Da Nang, Vietnam where he spent the next 18 months on supply/Gun ships, as chief engineer.

The job of the boats was to transport supplies up and down the Quai Viet River, on the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) between North and South Vietnam.  Mike's job now as a PO3 was to keep the boat motors running and provide backup on the guns if needed.  The river was littered with underwater mines to which boats fell victim too often.  North Vietnamese snipers and the sounds of distant gun fire were also reasons for contant vigilance on each and every trip up and down the river.

In November of 1969 Mike received his Honorable Discharge orders and returned to the USA.  He remained on Naval Reserve for the Naval Reserve Manpower Center in Bainbridge, MD until Feb. 20, 1972.

Mike was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Viet Nam Service Medal with FMF Combat Insignia with two Bronze Stars, the Republic of Viet Nam Campaign Medal with Device and the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon.

Following his discharge, Mike attended SDSU in Brookings, studying Mechanical Engineering.  In the spring of 1974 he joined the US Peace Corps for a two-year tour of duty.  His assignment was Lesotho in Southern Africa as a diesel mechanic.  His duties were fixing machinery, building roads, building shelters and homes, teaching agricultural technology, and helping modernize a hospital with electricity.

After his two years were up, Mike stayed on in Lesotho to help finish the work at the hospital.  He had learned enough of the local language to converse adequately while teaching basic skills to his helpers with the project. During this time he met an entrepreneur from England who asked him to join his company.  As an employee with Philroy LTD, Mike traveled through Europe, learned Spanish by living with a family in Spain for four months, and then traveled to South America to the fishing town of Concepcion, Chile.  He spent the next three years building a fish canning factory, hiring the employees from this fishing community and marketing their products to other parts of the world.

In 1979 Mike's world travels ended.  While on a trip home from Chile to visit his parents, Mike was severely injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver.  He was only 32 years old.  He lost his speech and the ability to use his arms and legs.

It has been 32 years since the accident.  Mike now lives at the Sanford Vermillion Care Center in Vermillion.  Through the incredible help of his family and the fact that he still has his memories, Mike's service to his country is hardly forgotten nor is his patriotism and his unending desire to help others stopped. With the aid of a speech device/computer he can communicate, and will gladly share his story with a few jokes thrown in.  His druthers though would be a good game of cribbage.  As his four friends who play with him will tell you, he has no mercy when it comes to cribbage.

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