Michael L. Nathe was born in Scobey, Montana, on 27 May 1944, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Nathe of Redstone, Montana. Mike’s early years were shaped by his family with whom he remained close throughout his life. He spoke often with pride of his parents, brothers and sister.
His character was formed by the teachings of his family. He was taught to be unselfish with his time and talents to help others. His parents set the example through voluntary service in community, country and statewide organizations. Growing up on a ranch taught the value of hard work and the necessity for trust and trustworthiness. Instilled in the Nathe family early was the drive toward self-improvement. All of his brothers and his sister attained a college degree and several went on to graduate work at such places as the University of California at Irvine, Creighton University, Notre Dame and the Harvard Business School. All are still active in their communities and the oldest son, Dennis, recently was a Montana State legislator. The Nathe family clearly exemplified the theme of service to their fellow man.
Mike attended grade school at Redstone then entered Assumption Abbey at Richardson, North Dakota, for his four years of high school. At Assumption Abbey he was an honor roll student, and he won three wrestling championships and was chosen all-conference for three years. Two times he was chosen all-conference in football and in 1961 was selected as the most valuable lineman on a highly successful team. His team was one of the most powerful teams in North Dakota high school history going undefeated and unscored upon that year.
After graduation he attended Carroll College for a year and played varsity football. Then it was on to West Point. From early youth Mike wanted the military life. This desire sprang from his wish to serve his fellow man as exemplified by his parents, brothers and sister, the patriotism of his family and the military service of relatives dating from Custer’s Last Stand to the Korean War.
The hard work of plebe year was something to which Mike had long been accustomed, so he bad few problems adjusting to the rigors of cadet life. He made the plebe wrestling team and the varsity squad the following year. Classmates and upperclassmen recognized early his quiet and mature determination, and he soon had their respect. Mike was popular, well rounded, strong in every sense, but still touched with kindness. His honest sincerity, generosity of self, sense of humor and reliability marked him as a revered friend who could always be counted upon. He had the friendship of all and was the soldier one wanted to be fighting beside.
Mike’s parents and all of his brothers attended his graduation at West Point. The pride of the family was clearly evident that June Day. On the way home to Montana tragedy struck as Mike’s father died of a heart attack. This was a terrible blow to a closeknit family who treasured so much their relationships with one another.
Mike volunteered for duty in Vietnam as his first assignment. After completing the Infantry Basic Course and Ranger School he was stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado, for six months. He visited home the last time in May 1908 with his fiancee, Miss Lynn Madden. In early July he left Redstone to visit his sister enroute to Oakland, California, and Cu Chi Vietnam.
Upon his arrival at the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi he became a platoon leader in Company B, 14 Infantry. At 0100 29 August 1968 Mike’s platoon came under an intense enemy attack. He was wounded by an incoming mortar round but refused medical attention. While maneuvering from position to position giving aid to others and directing return fire he was mortally wounded by another enemy mortar round.
Mike was posthumously awarded the Silver Star; Bronze Star; Purple Heart; National Order of Vietnam, 5th Class; Gallantry Cross with palm, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. A scholarship fund has been established at Assumption Abbey as a living monument and tribute.
Mike was buried on the plains of eastern Montana where he had grown up. Befitting a true soldier’s resting place there is a flagpole on a nearby hill overlooking his grave where a flag is raised on national holidays for the memory of Mike. It waves across the amber fields as if...
To keep alive an old belief
That on some distant shore
Far from despair and grief
Old friends shall meet once more.
—JS, MH, PE, Classmates and dear friends
- Mr. Carl A. Bowen
- Class of 1967
- Mr. and Mrs. Peter Economos '67
- COL Joseph P. Jackson Jr.
- COL Joseph P. Jackson Jr., USA, Retired
- Ms. Veronica M. Lenz
- MAJ (R) and Mrs. Michael S. Lighthill '67
- LTC (R) and Mrs. Freed Lowrey Jr. '67
- Mr. and Mrs. Joel T. Matulys '67
- Mr. and Mrs. Gerald S. Misurek '67
- Mr. and Mrs. Gerald A. Nathe
- COL (R) and Mrs. Michael Norton '67
- Mr. and Mrs. John E. Severson '67