Friday, August 01, 2008

Army 2nd Lt. Michael R. Girdano

Remember Our Heroes

Army 2nd Lt. Michael R. Girdano, 23, of Pennsylvania

2nd Lt. Girdano was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas; died Aug. 1, 2008 in Chowkay Valley, Afghanistan, from wounds sustained when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Spc. William J. Mulvihill, Pfc. David J. Badie and Pvt. Jair DeJesus Garcia.

Indiana Gazette -- Army 2nd Lt. Michael R. Girdano, 23, died when a vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device, according to a Defense Department news release.

Garcia served with the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

Girdano, Badie and Mulvihill were assigned to the Special Troops Division of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Girdano, a 2003 graduate of Apollo-Ridge High School and later the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, was cut out for a leadership role, according to his high school coach.

"He was a great leader and very diligent," said John Simon. "He was a good teammate who cared, who pushed you to your limits and gave you the will to win."

Simon is in his first year as the head football coach. He was an assistant football coach and head baseball coach when Girdano played the sports at Apollo-Ridge.

Simon said Girdano's chance to enter West Point was jeopardized when he injured his knee and required surgery during his junior year football season.

"To get into the academy is difficult, with all the restrictions and prerequisites," Simon said. "And if they find our you're injured, they pretty much don't take you.

"I had to write them a letter saying his ability, with his knee, was stronger and better than it was before."

Girdano recovered from the knee injury and played halfback and safety as a senior, while serving as a team captain.

"I think other people, when confronted with that injury, would have given up," Simon said. "But Mike didn't. He kept driving."

When word of Girdano's death circulated over the weekend in the Apollo area, talk began of retiring the numbers that Girdano and Joshua Henry wore when they played for the Vikings.

Henry, who graduated in 2001 from Apollo-Ridge, was killed Sept. 20, 2004, while serving in the Army in Iraq.

Simon said the district's school board and athletic director would have the final say on retiring the players' numbers.

Whatever the procedure, "we will try to do something very formal," Simon said.

Army 2nd Lt. Michael R. Girdano was killed in action on 8/1/08.

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