Chirio Jr., Michael Lawrence

Item

Title

Chirio Jr., Michael Lawrence

Performer

Michael Lawrence Chirio Jr.

Interviewer

William Vollano

Description

Mike Chirio enlisted in the army upon completion of his degree at the University of Michigan in history, and a minor in international relations. He was also an ROTC member, and is able to speak several languages. Mike entered the army on October 11, 1953 and was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia for officer training. He then moved on to Fort Jackson in South Carolina for basic training, where he became company commander, because he was the only officer in the company. Mike stayed there for nine months. At Ft. Benning, he was part of an experimental program (Operation Gyroscope), focused on keeping new soldiers together as a unit. Mike then transferred to Fort Richardson in Alaska, where he stayed for two years. He discussed the lack of fresh food during his time there, and the excitement of the wives when his unit was transferred to Ft. Lewis in Washington, where fresh food was available. Mike spent three years in Washington and was part of the 4th Infantry division there. He spent time at Camp Desert Rock outside of Las Vegas, for nuclear testing maneuvers. Here, Mike was promoted to a First Lieutenant, and then Captain, and a rifle company commander. His unit returned to Fort Lewis. He was then appointed to a position at Central Michigan University, as an ROTC instructor. Mike remained there from 1960-64. In 1964, military intelligence became a separate branch, and he was invited into this unit by a Lieutenant General, via a letter. His next stop was in Maryland, but outside of Baltimore, where he went for more training. He had orders to go to Turkey, but they were changed and he was sent to Vietnam instead. He arrived in Vietnam in February, 1965 as a part of the Army Security Agency (the electronic intelligence part of the army.) His unit was the 3rd RRU (radio research unit) of the 509th ASA battalion (Army Security Agency) and they were stationed outside of Saigon (on an airbase). Their job was to monitor communications including radar, voice, etc. and analyze it. They employed linguists, morse code specialists, etc. He was the security officer for the group, and his job was to keep the enemy from gaining information about what the group was doing, as well as to protect the physical security of the staff (150 military MPs assigned to him). At one point, his staff included an MP dog platoon. When Mike returned from his first tour in Vietnam, he went to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. In 1968 he was assigned to Detroit as part of the 13th MI group during the race riots. His job there was to run background investigations, and his rank was now Lieutenant Colonel. In 1971, he was sent on his second tour of Vietnam, as the Chief of Counterintelligence for the US army there. Mike was responsible for all of its counterintelligence, including keeping information from the enemy, and interrogating POWs. He returned home in 1972, and retired from the army in 1977. Mike became a professor of Military Science at Eastern Michigan University. At the time he arrived, cadets refused to wear uniforms because of harassment. He insisted that they wear uniforms, and talked to professors to calm things down. He spent five years in that position, then retired and stayed on at EMU for 24 more years, as the budget officer.

Date Span

1953-1977
Dates of Service

Subject

Enlisted; United States Army; 3rd Radio Research Unit (RRU), 4th Infantry Division; Vietnam War, 1961-1975; Vietnam; United States; Lieutenant Colonel

Publisher

Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Collection Location

1/26
https://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/loc.natlib.afc2001001.68155

Spatial Coverage

Vietnam; United States

Item sets