Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis

18, of San Jose, California.
Mihalakis died as a result of injuries sustained in a non-combat vehicle accident at the Baghdad International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 270th Military Police Company, 49th Military Police Battalion, 100th Troop Command, California Combat Support Command, Army National Guard, based in Fairfield, California. Died on December 26, 2003.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Army Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis.


Contributions to the Families of the Fallen


Leave a message in memory of this servicemember, and/or to the loved ones left behind.

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"My childhood neighbor and best friend. I grew up with Michael. I'm finally sharing my reflection and sorrow... even almost 20 years later, it hurts terribly. We shared so many childhood adventures... Mike..."
John Peterson of Milpitas CA

"I just stumbled upon this page when as I was looking up a family relative on Google. Needless to say that it was so heartbroken to read through the story of Michael. May his memory be eternal and I would like to leave you with a quote in Greek "Οι άνθρωποι πεθαίνουν μόνο όταν τα αγαπημένα τους άτομα σταματούν να τα θυμούνται". Thank you for you service Michael!"
Andreas Michalakis of New York


It has been over 11 years since you were taken from us. Sometimes it seems like another life long ago and other times it seems like just yesterday that I walked by you and said hello when you were on what would turn out to be your last trip to chow. You are missed everyday by so many. We will never forget you. You will always be one of my little brothers. I love you Mike. I cannot wait to see you again someday. Rest in peace Brother."
SSG Jackie Todd 270th MP Co of Sacramento, CA USA

"Thinking of you always brother!

Kristine Mihalakis

"Its hard to believe its been ten years now. I was fortunate enough to have met Mike in high school. The Rock star that he was. Always playing his guitar. Mike was a great guy that could put a smile on your face easily. I just want to thank Mike and send his family my love for raising a great guy. I always drive by the street in Milpitas named after him and see his smiling face. Thanks to all the Veterans who sacrificed for our great country."
Andrew Petersen of San Jose CA

"I am getting a tattoo in memory of my heroic cousin, Mike. I'm doing so for a flurry of reasons, most of which, is the fact that Mike would easily do the same for me or any friend or family member. We miss you, Mike....may paradise greet you with timelessness and open arms! We salute you!!"
Chris of Atascadero

"Had a dream about Mike last night, it was so good to see his face. For the rest of my life I'll wonder if he got that email, with the time difference and all the other factors, I'll always wonder if he knew. I keep his letters in a scrap book, I don't let my self look at them, it's to hard. Mike you will never be forgotten, a life time worth of memories squeezed into such a short time. You'll always have a piece of my heart."
T of california

"Every year I have to actually ask myself if it really happened that long ago. I'll never forget you. Love you forever."
Kat of SLO, CA

"To Michael's family and friends,
My name it Kelly (Tyrrell) Zitelman and my younger brother PFC Scott Tyrrell also died "from injuries sustained in Iraq during a non-combat related incident" in 2003. He was near an amunitions hold when it exploded on Nov. 14th and died from his injuries on Nov. 20th at Ft. Sam Houstin, TX.
It has been just over 6 years for us, and almost 6 years for you...and I just wanted you to know that yours, as well as mine have not been forgotten. I want to thank you for the sacrifice that, not only he, but all of you also gave! I hope that you are able to keep Michael's memory alive but have also learned to live with the pain of him being gone. Please know that I will be thinking of all of you and that if any of you ever need to talk with someone "that truely understands"...you can reach me at zitelmanzoo@yahoo.com
Kelly :)"
Kelly Zitelman (sister of a fellow fallen HERO) of Dixon, IL

"It has been 5 years 11 months 16 days since we lost "Mike". I was his team leader for the first half of our deployment and in his squad when we lost our comrade. It is still hard for me cause I still remember that day, "Ski", Sara, Anthony, Teters, Mike and myself were playing the game of risk and he was the first to be knocked out of the game. He then said he was heading to eat and 15 minutes later all of us were in shock cause somebody came in and said Mike was gone. We were confused because we didn't understand what was said but when they said he was killed in a accident we all then were angered, saddened and lost. Our hearts were torn as we were confused as to why this could happen. To this day I am honored to have had him as a friend and comrade and a soldier that had all the potential to lead others. He is a hero to me and will never be forgotten! I am currently in Iraq again and have been to where we lost Mike and it still brings tears to my heart that he is gone. He was a soldier but also like a son to me as I have children his age.
God Bless the family and my condolences to you all! Rest in Peace Mike!
If any family member would like to talk with me for any reason contact me by email and when I return I will be happy to meet with you. "david.j.northup@us.army.mil"
SFC David Northup of San Jose, Ca

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take the families pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com

Scott Steiner of Worthington, OH USA

"I remember when Mike first came to the 270th MP CO. He had just graduated MP School, and Basic, and had joined the rest of us at Ft Lewis, WA. Like Mike, I was actually assigned to a different company, the 649th MP CO, but temporarily transferred to the 270th. Mike caught his fair share of the "FNG" details, but he did it all with a smile on his face. He was one of the rare individuals who it didn't matter what the circumstances where, or how crappy he was feeling, he had a smile on his face, and he had the ability to put one on your face as well. Unfortunately, we were in different platoons, so when we hit BIAP, and started missions, we didn't get a chance to talk much. But, he will always be missed. I have since went back to the Active Duty, but every chance that I have, when I am back in the SLO area, I pay my respects to his and every other Soldier's memorial at CSLO. To his family, you are in my and my family's thoughts and prayers."
SPC Fish, James of Ft Campbell, KY

"My name is Steve Blackwell and I have created a Profile on the Army Together We Served website for Michael.


If anyone has any information such as awards, ribbons, units, pictures, or anything else that I can post to Michael's Fallen profile, please email me at atwsfallenmp @ gmail.com

Webmaster, the Military Police Homepage
Steve Blackwell of Hampton, VA

"December 20, 2008
To the family of Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis:
Michael gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Hey Mike,
I'll be down to see you tommorow. Yeah I know it's been awhile. Well I just wanted to say that I miss you and will be thinking of you. Tell Angela I said hi. Bye Buddie."
Heather of San Luis Obispo, CA

"To my dear friend Mike,
Not many days have gone by in the last 5 years where i have not thought about you and everything that you meant to me. I remember the time we met, you were so open with a stranger. I remember thinking the first time we hung out that I had never met anyone like you. So honest and willing to say exactly what you felt, this is what drew me to you. I think about you most on my birthday every year and i celebrate yours as well on may 9th. I keep playing risk and thinking about your little red afro man and remember the last time i saw you. Do you remember the video we made on christmas on the water tower, that was to date my most amazing chrismas and one of the best days of my life. I truey miss you and love you and I know i will see you later."
sara manning of kihei hawaii

"Michael, I want you to know that you are never far from my thoughts. I remember when you cut the cake for the MP Birthday because you were the youngest in the company. I remember feeling more like a private in D795 than a Drill Sgt. I am back at Ft Leonard Wood again. I'm retired now, but I'm back to instructing MP's again. I can't bring myself to walk past the MP Commadants office (They hung a paper dove on the door with your name on it.) I know you've touched a lot of lives, Michael. I just wanted you and your family to know that I was one of them. Michael watch over these soldiers that I train. I don't want to see anymore doves with kids names on it. In Christ's Love"
Carol Kelley-Cassidy of Ft Leonard Wood, MO

"To the family and friends of Private first class Mihilakis. I did not know him personally but I met him when I worked at Bed, Bath and Beyond on Almaden Expressway. He had bought some items and was in my line and I noticed his name on the credit card. I asked him if he was hawaian and he said no and we got to talking about him being in the military and that he was visiting his sister who was sick. I shook his hand and said thank you for your service to our country but I want to see him and everyone else come home safe. He smiled and thanked me and said he had only a few months left and he would finally be home. I joked with him and said don't volunteer for anything and keep your head low. He smiled and said thank you and then I never saw him again. I remember reading about him in the paper and hearing of his untimely death and my heart went out to you his family and friends. I do not know Private Mihilakis or his family but I want you to know I am very proud of him. Proud of him as I am of all the others I do not know but are serving our country to insure our freedom. I am not a religious man but I will tell you this, I pray every night that you all come home safe to your friends and family and live the life you all deserve to live. May God protect you and bring you all home safely.
Tyger B. Dacosta of San Jose CALIF U.S.A.

"To the family and friends of Private first class Mihilakis. I did not know him personally but I met him when I worked at Bed, Bath and Beyond on Almaden Expressway. He had bought some items and was in my line and I noticed his name on the credit card. I asked him if he was hawaian and he said no and we got to talking about him being in the military and that he was visiting his sister who was sick. I shook his hand and said thank you for your service to our country but I want to see him and everyone else come home safe. He smiled and thanked me and said he had only a few months left and he would finally be home. I joked with him and said don't volunteer for anything and keep your head low. He smiled and said thank you and then I never saw him again. I remember reading about him in the paper and hearing of his untimely death and my heart went out to you his family and friends. I do not know Private Mihilakis or his family but I want you to know I am very proud of him. Proud of him as I am of all the others I do not know but are serving our country to insure our freedom. I am not a religious man but I will tell you this, I pray every night that you all come home safe to your friends and family and live the life you all deserve to live. May God protect you and bring you all home safely."
Tyger B. Dacosta of San Jose CALIF U.S.A.

"I am currently a senior at Milpitas High School. One day, in a physics class, I saw a picture of a young soldier, smiling wide with his friends at a Thanksgiving dinner. I aksed the teacher, Schletzbaum, who the young man was. He had said it was a Michael Mihalakis, a bright young studnet who had died in combat. Many, many months later, I read of his letters in Newsweek. I really came to respect him, his dedication and his emotional warmth.

RIP Michale. I wish I had known you."
Viet Nghiem of Milpitas, CA

"I remember getting the phone call at 3 in the morning from Cory and Chris. I was at a friends house. Amidst my crying, all I could think was "but its so close to christmas." He was so close to home. So close that everyone could sense his presence already. He was already here, just not quite yet in person. My heart froze, and I thought about it for a second. I remember asking Cory "wait, are you joking" even though I knew by Cory's voice that there was no joke about it. Michael was dead. How do you lose someone that close to you that easily? None of us really got to say goodbye. I say goodbye everyday. Its been years and I still think about him daily. Miss him every time I see an S10 truck. Cry when I pass the military in San Luis. My heart stops when I pass mustang where he lived in hopes that maybe this time I'll see him in the window, playing his guitar. I used to fall asleep to the sound of that guitar. After listening to him play, and writing our own lyrics. He was comfortable. I miss that. Everyday. I LOVE YOU MIKEY! Thanks for putting me to sleep when I couldn't relax, and for waking up with a smile. Thanks for always being there, even now your presence is obvious and strong."
Kat Smiley of San Luis Obispo

"SORRY I forgot my email malabarspyder@yahoo.com

and my tribute to this young man:
Spyder, 313th USASA HQ, SP4 of malabar FL USA

"I read Micheal's story initially in Newsweek. I was touched by his focus on the plight of the locals, particularly the children.

There are so few winners in this conflict, but I'm gaining a determination that Michael and his mates ' sacrifice will bring forth a nation of peace and nurturing.

Goddess Bless Michael and his family. I feel I knew just a little about this fine young man from his letters, and what others have written here about him. And I'm humbled."
Spyder, 313th USASA HQ, SP4 of Malabar, FL, USA

"Dearest Mike,
I am your cousin, Joani, who only got to know you after you died in Iraq defending my freedom! Your grandmother, Mary Fran has told me all about your loving heart and soul.
Thank you, dear Angel.
Joan Erwin of Studio City, CA, USA

"Dearest Mike,
Three years ago, you took a Brave step
You passed from this life into Eternal Life
You were very Brave
Loving You Every Day
Your Loving Grandma Maryfran"
Maryfran Butcher of Novato, Ca. USA

"Hey Mike,
Wow another Christmas! I wish you here so you could party it up on New Years legally! If heaven is what I think it is your having a better time up there anyways. I have been going through some tough times lately, and I had a dream the other night and you were in it. We were shopping at Target together. I know how random is that??? Anyways it was really nice and I would like to think it was your way of saying "What's up". I wish I would have talked to you more often, but it's no biggie because I know we'll catch up on the flip-side. Miss ya man."
Heather Cinkel, heather.cinkel@yahoo.com of Littleton, CO

"Today I took part in the NYC vigil 'Number The Dead'. I was honored to hold the poster with the name of Spc. Michael G. Mihalakis. My prayers are with his family."
Hilary Hodgson of NY, NY USA

"To the family of Mike,
I served with Mike in Iraq. It is hard to believe that it has been more almost 2 and a half years since his passing. There isn't a day that I don't think of Mike in some way, especially today, Memorial Day. I feel sad when I think of the great man he would have become. He would have been an amazing husband and father, but I also take comfort in the fact that he lived his life so fully in such a short time. I know this because not only was he a great person, he was also such a great teacher. I remember nights at Camp Arifjan where he would teach me and May how to play chess (and we are not all that bright). I also remember me and May teasing him by playing keep away. He was such a good sport about everything. He was so unbelievably smart too!!! I won't lie it drove me crazy! I remember we would walk back from the chow hall and just have the most amazing conversations about life in general. I can tell you that he really loved his family. He would tell me about how much he really admired his parents and how strong you were. He was the kind of guy that somehow made you feel better as a person when you were around him. Unfortunately when we got to Iraq, being in different platoons we didn't speak as much after Arifjan, but about once or twice a month he would come over to my "house" and we would catch up on what was going on in each others lives. If I would have known what was going to happen I would have been around him every second! On what would have been "Mickeys" 21st birthday my friend and fellow soldier May Ordanez, who also served with Mike in Iraq, gave birth to her daughter Carly Amaya. I know that nothing can compare to the loss of your son but I hope that in some way you can take comfort in the fact that someone who cared for and truly admired mike was able to bring a life into this world when a one so great was lost. Take care and know that the soldiers who served with Mike will never forget him.
SGT Heather Cinkel of Littleton, CO

"Nobody has the capacity to remember everyone who died over there. Just like a video game...our memory is limited. I can't fit into my little brain all the soldiers who died so that we might be one step closer to freedom. But yet...if I could thank each and every one of them...I would. I could not thank them enough. I remember those who gave their lives in Vietnam...I was an extra in the movie "We Were Soldiers." After playing a wounded soldier in front of the camera, I got a different perspective on a war. I have always thought of the men and women who made such a sacrifice. But before I was in that movie, I didn't think about it as much. And then when this happened (the loss of my favorite cousin) it's like a bunch of sadness was thrust into my brain all at once. I didn't know what to think...what to feel...who to turn to in order to hear the right thing. I miss him. And as far as I'm concerned he was nothing short of a hero...and so were all the other soldiers who gave their lives in this war...and many others. From Lieutenant Jack Goeghan in "the battle of Ia Drang..." to my cousin, Mike. You will all be remembered by God and when we, as mere humans, remember you, we will smile and salute you. And some of us (like me) will shed tears and perhaps we may one day know why this happened...God's plan maybe? Hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes. Until then...I miss you, Mike. See you later."
Christopher Howard Wilson of Atascadero, CA...USA

"I would like to express great appreciation for all those who took the time and energy for remembering my younger brother, Mike. I am his older sister. Age 22. I remember that growing up with Mike was an adventure to say the least. He was always a dramaqueen, and quite emotional, But where my older wasn't sensitive to my blindness, Mike would always be the one to guide me when we would go on outings with my mom. I am happy that those people not in our family are still thinking of him!"
Carly Mihalakis of Albany California

"I want to know if Michael Mihalachis was with many years ago in Romania - Europe. Thanks!
my email: smrtnn_vili@yahoo.com"
Vili of Romania

"I first read excerpts from Michael's letters home in "Stars and Stripes" shortly after his death while I was in Iraq. What an amazingly mature, brave, and selfless man. Reading what he wrote in the letter found in the safety deposit box brought tears to my eyes, and sometimes still does. Though I did not know him, I know the pain of losing someone that one-of-a-kind. To his friends and family, take comfort in knowing that you have a brave, loyal, and admired hero watching over you from above at all times. Wish I had known him..."
Dan Friederich of St. Louis, MO

"hello i am April Drikas the little sister of Matthew Driaks "The Big Greek". I am very sorry that Michael left the earth at a young age. I appreciate that he served our country. He was a very brave man for going to Iraq!!!! Thank you for serving our country."
April Drikas of Sacramento,California

"To the family of Michael G. Mihalakis, I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Hopefully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need someone to talk to or someone to pray with you please call or write my pastor at Gateway Community Church Rev. John B. Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd.Covington Ga.31116 phone 770 787 1015 YOur friend in Jesus Christ,"
Polly Ballew of Covington Ga. U S A

"Peace be with You..."
Paul Brian Michalak of Byron,MN U.S.

"Hello to the mother and father of Michael G. Mihalakis

My brother, Ellas Mihalakis, died in Vietnam in 1968. He was buried on his 21st birthday. I own a restaurant in Dubuque, Iowa. A customer brought in an article about your son, Michael. It brought back a lot of memories about my brother Ellas. My parents wanted to contact you, especially my mother. She wanted to relate to you, somehow, because she understands how you feel more than anyone. I think she thought twice about it, because when it
happened to her, she couldn't talk about it for years, and she realizes there's nothing she can say to make you feel better. I just wanted you to know that there are people out there that
understand the sacrifice and the pain associated with it. We want to express our sadness for the loss of your wonderful son, Michael, and wish the
best for you and your family."
Georgia Mihalakis of Dubuque, Iowa

"Well...it's been over a year now. It still feels like yesterday my mom broke the news to my immediate family that we had lost our favorite cousin and nephew. Since then I have tried so hard to say the right thing to everybody. But what is there to say when someone so awesome goes away? It hurts so bad. He was one in a zillion. I remember in one of the many home movies I saw of the Mihalakis family over the years, he was really young and pretended to be stuck under an easy chair. Kristine couldn't help but laugh as she was holding the video camera. I laughed so hard when he showed it to me.
This other time we were skating around San Jose on rollerblades. The wind was so fierce we couldn't skate against it. We had to skate with it. Needless to say we didn't know where we would end up.
Great America was also a big part of my family hanging out with Mike. We went on Drop Zone 15 times in a row! We didn't get sick though.
I'll always miss the times we spent playing XBOX in the den at my house trying to conquer "Simpsons Road Rage."
He was a hero, a rockstar, the life of the party, a ladies man, a comedian, a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin and a friend. In those short 18 years...he left quite an impression. My tears tonight go to you, Mike. Meet me in the place that is bright!"
Christopher Howard Wilson of Atascadero, CA. USA

"I don't know Michael or his family, but I wear his name around my wrist everyday. I was sent his name on a hero bracelet. I am proud of his service and honor his mother and father. My deepest condolences to Michael's family and friends. You are all in my thoughts and prayers.

Your son gave up his life for people like myself who he didn't even know. He was over there fighting to free the oppressed and to make life over here safer for my 14 month old daughter.

Thank you all for your sacrifice.

Michael Henriques
7800 Stansfield Dr
Ft Worth, TX 76137"
Michael Henriques

"I don't know how often Mike's family or friends checks this website, but if any of you are reading this, I would like you to know that he is still greatly missed. It's been a year, but he is still in my thoughts and prayers. I would like you to know that your son was very special and he will always be remembered as a hero."

"I was sitting here thinking today and a memory of Mike popped into my head. It is weird because I hadnt realized that it really has been over a year. I think of Mike often. He was an amazing soldier, an even better guitar player, and the best person someone could hope to have in their life. I am just happy to know that every day that I fight for my country, I fight along with people like Mike and I know he is watching out for all his fellow soldier out there. Knowing he watches over us keeps me going and makes me realize exactly what I am fighting for."
Jennifer of San Jose, CA, USA

"Mike and I served together in the same platoon while in Iraq. We were both at Fort Leonard Wood Missouri together until we graduated and ended up at Fort Lewis to start mobilizing for the deployment. Mike got there about a week before I did and he helped me get squared away.

Mike, Anthony, Christine, and me were the PFC mafia. So of course we got stuck with the "Crap" jobs. Mike never really minded though. He was always happy to be doing his part. Mike always came up with some really funny stuff just to get a couple laughs. His team had an ammo can strapped to the top of Mikes turret that said “Got Ammo?”

Evenings we had “Down Time” were usually spent around the RISK board. Mike would narrate his strategy to everyone while he was playing. The voice he would use while he did it was really hilarious. Sadly the last time we ever saw him was just after a game of RISK.

Before we ever went over there we all knew what could happen. But that was ok with us because we were all willing to sacrifice our own lives for the lives of our families and friends back home. Mike knew that statement better then a lot of people. That’s why he would be one of the first to volunteer for missions or a late night guard duty.

Mike was a great friend to me. He will always be remembered. And as Mike would say (And he did say it a lot) “GOOD TIMES”

~Spc Paul Teters"
Paul Teters of Salem, Or

"I didn't know Micheal but he is greatly missed, I lost my brother-in law in November 2003.We love you and you are deeply missed."
Antoinette Brooks of Stone Mountain, Georgia

"I was Stationed with Mike in I raq as part of the 270th. He was a great kid and a good friend but most of all a great soldier. When times got hard he always made me laugh. Even though he left us so young, he did not die in vain. He served his country well!

Spc Matthew Drikas "The Big Greek""
Matthew Drikas of Lodi, Ca

"Michael was one of a kind. A beautiful soul, a wonderful child, young man, and soldier. Although he was my nephew, I loved him like a son. He was my boys' best friend, and was loved by all who knew him. He brought light and love into our home each time he was here. We all have a huge hole in our hearts because his absence is felt each moment of each day. But Mikey loved God, and we know he is safe in Heaven, and that one day we will all be together again.

Thank you to those who have posted your loving thoughts. It is a source of comfort each time there is a new letter or kind thought posted because it keeps Mikey's memory alive.

A special thanks to Nick from Chicago... My mother, (Mikey's Yiaya), translated your beautiful message which you wrote in Greek: "Yet a child, Michael did not live out his life to the fullest. However, Michael is more of a man than all of us. I salute you, gallant man."
Athena Mihalakis Wilson of Atascadero, CA

"i went to high school and junior high with mike and he was a great guy, i'll never forget him, he will always be in my prayers."
chris balster of milpitas, ca

"I think I am speaking for all Greek-Americans when I say God bless you Michael. Acoma paidi o Mixalis, kai den eixe zesei ti zoe tou. Omos einai o Mixalis kai pio antras apo oli mas. Giasou Leventia!!"
Nick of Chicago, Illinois

"Specialist Mihalakis, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"It hardly seems possible that our
precious son, Mike, lost his life in Baghdad over three months ago. Each day has been difficult, some harder than others. I want to thank all the caring individuals who have shared their thoughts here. We are all on the raft of sorrow together, traveling toward better days.

I especially want to thank Mike's fellow soldiers for sharing your thoughts and ask that you contact me at P0 Box 361225 Milpitas, Ca. 95036."
Diana Mihalakis of San Jose, Ca.

"To Aunt Diane, Uncle George, Christine and Carly,

I hope that the memories I have shared have helped to heal you in any way. I realize that by comparison, my sadness is miniscule. I hope if you, any of you, need anything, even if you want to just sit around and talk about Mike, you will call me. I love you all and I thank you for raising an amazing person.

Andrew Wilson of Atascadero, CA USA

"My name is Andrew Wilson and I am Mike’s cousin. I would like to thank everyone who wrote something or thought something about Mike. I can’t begin to express the pain and agony I feel over the loss of Mike. Excuse the cliché, but I honestly feel like part of me was buried with Mike. I never ever want to forget what Mike meant to me, so I am going to try to share some insight into mine and Mike’s friendship and cousinship. Growing up, my brother and I used to anxiously await visits from Mikey and the Mihalaki (plural tense of Mihalakis, naturally). I looked forward to Mike’s visits partly because he always brought something new from the city, whether it was metropolitan wisdom or a new gadget from the latest technological wave, of which Uncle George was undoubtedly at the peak. In the mid-90’s My brother and I watched as Mike unveiled a new invention called a CD burner. Our country bumpkin (a nickname Mike affectionately delegated to me and my brother) eyes gleamed in awe. In the late-90’s Mike came to town for a visit. He had started to play guitar and had brought one along. During that visit he began to teach me to play. Here it is six years later and I am still playing. That is the most tangibly valuable skill Mike ever gave to me.

In addition to these, Mike also shared with me his philosophies and social prowess. He taught me that a balance must exist between objectivity and sensitivity. I had always seen Mike as a strong-willed , heavily independent individual, which he was. However, when he moved down to San Luis Obispo almost two years ago, I began to see Mike differently. He was still the impartial, evenhanded, levelheaded person that I knew him to be, but there existed in him a sensitivity that I had failed to notice before. He and I began to actually converse about our lives covering everything from disillusionment to women, and disillusionment from women, although I was usually the one with the women problems. Mike was good with the ladies. He could show Frank Sinatra a thing or two about women. As the two of us began to hang out more, I continued to discover what an awesome person Mike was and I grew to admire him greatly. I looked up to him and continue to more than I have looked up to anyone I have known before, and I know others do too, for instance my brother Chris who is 3 years older than Mike.

So here I sit in my room staring at Mike’s Army fatigues that Aunt Diane gave to me. I am looking at his clothes thinking that no one in the world but Mike can fill them. No one will ever take his place.

I know the pain is too much and it feels like nothing makes sense, but Mike will never be gone, because there are too many people on this planet keeping his memories from fading. I know that I will never find anyone to replace Mike in my life, and I don’t need to, because Mike is still in my life. I will never ever even begin to forget the things he taught me. How Could I? They are some of the strongest foundations in my life.

My pain is big and I can’t begin to imagine how others feel. I have many memories of Mike and I will gladly share them with anyone who needs them if it eases the pain somewhat.

I love you Mike and I will never forget you."
Andrew Wilsoon of Atascadero, CA USA

"I had the privilege of working with Mike in Iraq. We were in the same Platoon and shared a lot of the same experiences. Mike was a good soldier and friend. All of us developed an unbreakable bond that can never be duplicated. When we found out about Mike's passing it hit the platoon hard. Everyday since then I think about him often and the good times we've had. Even though we were in Iraq, we had each other. I'll miss you Mike."
Al of San Diego, CA

"My name is Jessica Castro and I was lucky enough to have shared many of the most important milestones in a person's life with Mike. I knew him for seven years and was his girlfriend off and on for five of those years. Although we lived in different cities, our love was strong. That's what Mike knew how to do best: love. He was one of the most, if not THE most loving person I've ever met. He always made sure to show his love in various ways. I remember for my sixteenth birthday, he came to Tracy (where I lived) and worked side-by-side with a friend of mine to surprise me at a restaurant during lunch with two dozen roses, balloons, bears, "the whole nine yards" (as he would say). It was the best surprise of my life and I will never forget it.
He was also so caring and paid so much attention to what people around him said. He took my mom and me to watch The Nutcracker when we were fourteen because he knew how much I wanted to see it. He even burned me a copy of the cd his mom owned and put a sticker on the cd that said "dedicated to Jessica Castro."
The best part of knowing Mike is definitely the memories. The two I have just shared with you all are just two of many. Everyone who ever got to know him knows just how easy it was to make lasting memories with him... this is why he will be missed for as long as we live.
I loved him so much... as did countless other people. He was my first everything, and I know that I would not be half the person I am now if I had never met him. The song "Because you loved me" by Celine Dion says it all. I will never forget him and I think about him everyday. I miss him like crazy and sometimes I don't feel like I'll be ok. But that's how we all feel. We’re fine sometimes, but not others. And that won't ever go away. We have suffered a major loss and our lives will never be the same. Our only consolation is knowing that he is heaven, watching over us.
I love you Mike and I will never forget the years we spent together. I can't wait to see you again..."
Jessica Castro of Tracy, Ca/USA

"I have had the wonderful oppertunity to have worked beside michael while we were in iraq, or when we were back enjoying our regular lives. to his friends and family, i know how much he will be missed for i miss him everyday. it will forever haunt me what happened that awful day and thoes images will be with me forever. i just want you guys to know as i am sure you already do, that he loved you guys very much and ALWAYS talked about you. i loved listen to thoes stories. just rememeber that he will never truly be gone because he will ALWAYS live on in our hears, our minds, and our dreams. i still cry for him everyday knowing that the world lost a wonderful person. my heart goes out to you all."
m of monterey, ca

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Michael, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. He was so VERY young. God Bless you. Pat & Sandi B from Montana "

"I was a dorm-mate of Michael's sister, Kristine at Cal State, Fresno...Although we had our differences, my heart goes out to her and her family during this difficult time. Keep your head held high, girl! If you need anything contact me at DeeVa@tbsigma.org."
Candice Katie Jones of Fresno, CA USA

"I am Spc. Michael Mihalakis' cousin. I was in uncontrollable tears when I discovered all the messages you all had left for him. he was my best friend. I just got home from his memorial service today where they planted a tree for him. what can I say except...thank you so much! even now as I write this I can't hold back the tears. I grew up with him for 18 years. even though his time with us was way too short...there's no way I could ever forget the time we spent together. I am so sorry for the loss of my aunt and uncle and Mike's two sisters. my sincerest condolences to all of you! I love you all. my condolences to all who knew him too. even if you knew him for 5 seconds...he still touched your life. when I passed the casquet at his funeral though...I didn't say "goodbye," I said..."I'll see you later." he is watching us right now, smiling because we won't forget him. we love you, Mike! SEE YOU LATER!"
Christopher H. Wilson of Atascadero, CA. USA

"Dear Michael,

I read about you in Seattle Times yesterday. You are not just a Michael who died for this great nation. You are more than that. I almost had tears in my eyes when I read those letters you wrote to your parents. You have become a hero to millions of youth who are lost in this great nation without direction and purpose; or confused and took wrong paths in life.

I hope many parents show their children your moral convictions and courageous path you took to defend this nation. Unsung heroes like you should become role models for millions of youth who will one day become the leaders of this great nation.

Joseph Kunthara
Joseph Kunthara of Seattle, WA/USA

"Thank you Michael for being a hero at such a young age. It is such brave souls like you that allows us to see what America truly stands for.

To the family: I know you are proud of Michael but words can never express how much you truly miss him.

This I understand. I am the mother of
Spc. Jonathan Marshall Cheatham. He joined heaven's military July 26, 2003.

Hold on to you memories and know you will see him again. I am sure he is smiling upon you now. Please understand you will carry him in your heart everyday.

Much love to all of you and many prayers I will continue to say for all our soldiers: Deceased, Wounded, or Alive and still fighting. I stand behind them all and pray for all of them.

Dr. Barbara Porchia"

"I just read excerpts from letters Michael wrote to his family in our local paper. I hope I can raise my sons to have such heart, dedication, and love for family and country. God Bless his family and many thanks to them for raising such an individual."
Nanette of Seattle, WA

"Thank you Michael for defending our country in Iraq. I am doing a report on you for Social Studies class and I chose you especialy because you are from San Jose, and that is where my grandparents live."
Alex of Vermont

"SPC Mihalakis:
Thank your for giving yourself so that we can enjoy our freedoms. No greater gift can be given and there are no real words that can express how truly greatful we are for what you've done"
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"I think about Michael every day. I had the pleasure of seeing him almost every day at school for 3 years, though I never talked to him. I regret that very much. Our school has gone through many tragedies in the past few years. I hope Michael will be remembered as a hero. To his parents: you raised a great son. Thank you."
Lynsey of Milpitas, California

"As a fellow California Army National Guardsman, I am so very saddened by the loss of this fine young soldier. I am grateful however for Michael's committment to our Nation and to serving unselfishly at such an important time in our Nation's history. May the Lord comfort the family of this dear one who gave his life that we might continue to live in Freedom."
SGT Dan Dow of Newark, CA

"Thank you Michael Mihalakis, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of this brave young man: may you be comforted by the fact that he has made the ultimate sacrifice to keep all of us here at home out of harms way. For that I will be forever grateful. May God bless your family."
Kelly of San Jose, California

"To the family and friends of Spc. Michael Mihalakis:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Michael for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Spc. Michael Mihalakis:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Michael, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on