My Hero. My Son. SGT Michael Christopher Hardegree

Tags: HeroStories

About my son, Mike

Mike was a compassionate, fun-loving, friendly young man. He loved to try to make people laugh when situations were bad. His friends called him Mikey. We have video footage of Mike singing classic rock and roll over the platoon vehicle’s loudspeaker. His best friend, Wes, told me later that on that day, not only did the squad find his performance hilarious, but also there were probably 50 Iraqi children around the vehicle laughing and dancing to his songs. Wes added, “It was a true Mikey moment.” Mike loved children, and he showed great compassion to the Iraqi children. He played with them giving them rides on his back, down on all fours as if he were a horse. He always told me that the reason he was in Iraq was to make sure that his nieces, whom he loved very much, never had to grow up in fear as the Iraqi children did.

Mike had a serious but tender side as well. He was insistent that he be in the Airborne Infantry and extremely happy that he was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He was so proud the day he got his blue infantry cord – I pinned it on him. And I pinned on his airborne wings along with his grandfather. He was the third generation of his family to be airborne. He gave me miniature wings because he said I earned them too because of all my prayers and encouragement. When he returned from his first tour in Iraq, he surprised me. I didn’t know he was coming home before Christmas. He showed up around 9pm on December 19. He turned 21 just after midnight. It was his last birthday. We had a big welcome home party later in the week at which he made an emotional speech that included parts of the St. Crispen’s Day speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V. He presented me with a flag that he had flown in his tent for the whole deployment then carried folded inside his body armor on his last mission. He gave his father his Combat Infantryman’s Badge. He gave me a miniature of his CIB, again saying that I earned it. Then he told us he would have to go back to Iraq in just a few days. And he assured us that he was with the best soldiers in the world and that we shouldn’t worry. The last time he was home, he arrived on my birthday, thoughtful enough to get a present for me enroute. I will never forget how handsome and self-assured he looked as we walked out of the airport and he put that maroon beret confidently on his head. He looked at me and smiled and said, “Is it straight?” And I said, “You look very handsome.”

Thank you very much

Cindy Hardeg