Vining, Mike, SGM

Infantry (Enlisted)
 
 Photo In Uniform   Service Details
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Current Service Status
USA Retired
Current/Last Rank
Sergeant Major
Current/Last Service Branch
Infantry
Current/Last Primary MOS
11Z50-Infantry Senior Sergeant
Current/Last MOS Group
Infantry (Enlisted)
Primary Unit
1992-1999, 11Z50, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
Previously Held MOS
55C-Ammunition Maintenance Specialist
55D-Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist
Service Years
1968 - 1999

Sergeant Major


Ten Service Stripes



Two Overseas Service Bars



 Ribbon Bar

Combat Infantryman 1st Award
Parachutist (Basic)Military Freefall ParachutistExplosives Ordnance Disposal (Master)

 

 Official Badges 

Infantry Shoulder Cord US Army Retired (Pre-2007) WWII EOD Sleeve Insignia Austrian High Alpine Police Badge

EOD Army Retired-Soldier for Life US SOCOM U.S. Army Vietnam

Army Materiel Command USA Forces Command 172nd Infantry Brigade Army Special Operations Command

USAE US Special Operations Command 1st Sustainment Command


 Unofficial Badges 

Airborne Ordnance Shoulder Cord Army Honorable Discharge (1984-Present) Cold War Medal

Cold War Veteran Special Operations Vietnam Veteran 50th Commemoration Vietnam 50th Anniversary

U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame Medal


 Military Association Memberships
Post 8121, Seigfried-Leyte PostUnited States Naval InstituteVietnam EOD Veteran ChapterVietnam EOD Veterans Association
ATWS Unit HistorianEOD Warrior Foundation
  2001, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 8121, Seigfried-Leyte Post (Member) (South Fork, Colorado) [Verified]1 - Chap. Page
  2006, United States Naval Institute - Assoc. Page
  2008, National EOD Association (NATEODA). , Vietnam EOD Veteran Chapter [Verified]1
  2008, Vietnam EOD Veterans Association
  2008, National EOD Association (NATEODA). [Verified]
  2013, ATWS Unit Historian [Verified]
  2015, EOD Warrior Foundation - Assoc. Page


 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
Fully retired.  Keeping busy by writing, hiking, backpacking, rock and mountain climbing, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and alpine and backcountry skiing.
   
Other Comments:
Recipient of The Order of 1st SFOD-D - Delta Colors, Serial Number 123, on 19 October 1995, for singularly exemplary contributions to 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (Airborne).  Graduate of Operator Training Course -1 (OTC-1).   In Delta served as an Operator, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician, Master Breacher, Climbing Instructor, and Mountain Guide.  Historian for the Vietnam Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Veterans Chapter of the National Explosive Ordnance Disposal Association (NATEODA).  Assistant historian for the NATEODA.  Recieved the 2013 Art Macksey Citizenship Award presented by the Vietnam EOD Veterans Association.  Inducted into the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame, Class of 2018.

U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame weblink - See Year 2018:
https://goordnance.army.mil/hof/hall_of_fame_inductees_year.html

Married to Donna L. Ikenberry, a freelance photojournalist.  We have two daughters and six grandchildren.  The oldest two grandchildren served in the U.S. Navy.  On 1 June 2018, Donna was awarded the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps "Keeper of the Flame" award.

BBC radio interview link that I did on the Iran Hostage Rescue Mission - Operation EAGLE CLAW, 24 - 25 April 1980:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05vf74p

SOFREP Radio Interview #1, Episode 322:
https://sofrep.com/sofrep-radio/episode-322-sgm-mike-vining-shares-stories-origins-delta-force/

SOFREP Radio Interview #2, Episode 342:
https://sofrep.com/sofrep-radio/episode-342-mike-vining-returns-to-discuss-post-vietnam-service/

Hazard Ground Podcast Interview #1, Episode #57:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mike-vining-1st-sfod-d-eagle-claw-grenada/id1194875626?i=1000426532229

Hazard Ground Podcast Interview #2, Episode #73:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mike-vining-returns-1st-sfod-d-eod/id1194875626?i=1000426532190
   

 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1968, 8th Battalion, 3rd Training Regiment (Fort Knox, KY), E/4
 Unit Assignments
US Army Materiel Command (AMC)Technical Escort Unit, US Army Materiel Command (AMC)533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
543rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D)1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D)176th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Alaska
176th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) AlaskaJoint Special Operations Command (JSOC), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
  1968-1968, 55C, US Army Materiel Command (AMC)
  1969-1969, 55D, Phase One Explosive Ordnance Disposal Course (EOD)
  1969-1969, 55D, Phase Two Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)
  1969-1970, 55D, Technical Escort Unit, US Army Materiel Command (AMC)
  1970-1970, 55D, 99th Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
  1971-1971, 55D, 99th Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 533rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
  1973-1978, 55D, 63rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD), 543rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Control
  1978-1983, 55D, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D)
  1983-1985, 55D, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D)
  1985-1985, 55D, 176th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Alaska
  1986-1986, 55D, 176th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) Alaska
  1986-1999, 11Z50, 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (1st SFOD-D)
  1992-1999, 11Z50, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1970-1970 Vietnam War/Winter-Spring 1970 Campaign
  1970-1970 Vietnam War/Sanctuary Counteroffensive Campaign (1970)/Operation Toan Thang 42 / Rock Crusher
  1970-1970 Vietnam War/Sanctuary Counteroffensive Campaign (1970)
  1970-1971 Vietnam War/Counteroffensive Phase VII Campaign (1970-71)
  1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis
  1980-1980 Operation Eagle Claw (Iran)2
  1983-1983 Operation Urgent Fury (Grenada)
  1991-1991 Gulf War/Defense of Saudi Arabia
  1991-1991 Gulf War/Liberation and Defense of Kuwait/Operation Desert Storm
  1994-1994 Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti)1
 Military Association Memberships
Post 8121, Seigfried-Leyte PostUnited States Naval InstituteVietnam EOD Veteran ChapterVietnam EOD Veterans Association
ATWS Unit HistorianEOD Warrior Foundation
  2001, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW), Post 8121, Seigfried-Leyte Post (Member) (South Fork, Colorado) [Verified]1 - Chap. Page
  2006, United States Naval Institute - Assoc. Page
  2008, National EOD Association (NATEODA). , Vietnam EOD Veteran Chapter [Verified]1
  2008, Vietnam EOD Veterans Association
  2008, National EOD Association (NATEODA). [Verified]
  2013, ATWS Unit Historian [Verified]
  2015, EOD Warrior Foundation - Assoc. Page


 Remembrance Profiles -  54 Soldiers Remembered
 Photo Album   (More...


Reflections on SGM Vining's US Army Service
 
 Reflections On My Service
 
PLEASE DESCRIBE WHO OR WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO JOIN THE ARMY.
When I was a child I liked to read military history stories. During this time the country was remembering the 100th anniversary of the American Civil War, so I would read a lot about the Civil War. I also had the Alamo and Civil War toy sets and would reenact battles. In my senior year of high school the 1968 Tet Offensive occurred. I knew I wanted to serve my country in Vietnam to see for myself as to why we were fighting there.
WHETHER YOU WERE IN THE SERVICE FOR SEVERAL YEARS OR AS A CAREER, PLEASE DESCRIBE THE DIRECTION OR PATH YOU TOOK. WHAT WAS YOUR REASON FOR LEAVING?
SGM Mike Vining - Whether you were in the service for several years or as a career, please describe the direction or path you took. What was your reason for leaving?
I would have liked to been in a ski and mountaineering outfit like the 10th Mountain Division, a division that operated during WWII, but the Army had eliminated that specialty. My next choice was the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) field. After finishing Ammunition Renovation Advance Individual Training (AIT), I attended EOD School at Fort McClellan, Alabama and Indian Head Naval Ordnance Station, Maryland. I served in conventional EOD units from 1969 to 1978.

In 1978, I decided I wanted something more challenging, so I volunteered to join a new unit that was forming up at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. They wanted people with an EOD background. The unit was 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta (Airborne). I spent the next 21 years in Delta and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), except for a year in a EOD unit in Alaska. In 1988, I transferred from EOD to Infantry. I figured I stood a better chance making Sergeant Major in Infantry, which worked out for me.
IF YOU PARTICIPATED IN ANY MILITARY OPERATIONS, INCLUDING COMBAT, HUMANITARIAN AND PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, PLEASE DESCRIBE THOSE WHICH MADE A LASTING IMPACT ON YOU AND, IF LIFE-CHANGING, IN WHAT WAY?
I spent a year in Vietnam with the 99th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) out of Phuoc Vinh, from 26 February 1970 to 29 January 1999. In April of 1980, I participated in Operation Eagle Claw, the Iran Hostage Rescue Attempt. I was aboard the EC-130E Bladder Bird #4 at Desert
SGM Mike Vining - If you participated in any military operations, including combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, please describe those which made a lasting impact on you and, if life-changing, in what way?
One when we were hit by RH-53D helicopter #3. During Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada, I was on the Richmond Hill Prison assault. In 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, I was stationed at Ar'ar, Saudi Arabia. In 1994, I was the Senior Enlisted Adviser for Joint Task Force 188 (JTF-188) on board the aircraft carrier USS AMERICA (CV-66) during Operation Uphold Democracy.

My most significant action in my career was the destruction of a cache found in Cambodia called "Rock Island East." The cache yielded 327 tons of ammunition and supplies, including 932 individual weapons, 85 crew-served weapons, 7,079,694 small arms and machine gun rounds. The cache contained 999 rounds of 85mm artillery shells which are used for the D-44 howitzer as well as the T-34 tank. I was part of a seven-man EOD team that destroyed the cache on 16 May 1970.
OF ALL YOUR DUTY STATIONS OR ASSIGNMENTS, WHICH ONE DO YOU HAVE FONDEST MEMORIES OF AND WHY? WHICH WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE?
I would say that it is two duty stations/assignments that I have my fondest memories of. Although all of my stations/assignments were a very positive experience and made many new friends. But it was my tour in Vietnam with the 99th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) and my tour with the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment, Delta at Fort Bragg, North Carolina stands out the most. Both of those assignments involved combat duty.
FROM YOUR ENTIRE MILITARY SERVICE, DESCRIBE ANY MEMORIES YOU STILL REFLECT BACK ON TO THIS DAY.
SGM Mike Vining - From your entire military service, describe any memories you still reflect back on to this day.
I would say our attempt to rescue the 53 Americans being held in Iran (1979-1981). In Delta this was the exact type of mission that we had trained for since the unit was first formed in November 1977. The only problem was that no other organization was training to support this kind of mission. The supporting units were put together ad hoc and had to quickly train for the mission. The helicopters were always a weak link in the mission. I believe that had we gotten to the American Embassy in Tehran, we would have been able to rescue the 53 Americans being held hostage. We trained very hard for that mission and I wish that it would have succeeded.
WHAT PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF FROM YOUR MILITARY CAREER?
SGM Mike Vining - What professional achievements are you most proud of from your military career?
I received Army Commendation for heroism while assigned as Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) specialist, 63d Ordnance Detachment (EOD), Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, during a series of terrorist bombings at Quincy, Illinois on 27 - 28 September 1976. SGM Kenneth Foster was killed when one of the bombs detonated.
OF ALL THE MEDALS, AWARDS, FORMAL PRESENTATIONS AND QUALIFICATION BADGES YOU RECEIVED, OR OTHER MEMORABILIA, WHICH ONE IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?
SGM Mike Vining - Of all the medals, awards, formal presentations and qualification badges you received, or other memorabilia, which one is the most meaningful to you and why?
I would say it was the Legion of Merit medal that I was awarded when I retired in January of 1999. It was a final recognition of what I had accomplished in my last ten years of service in the Army.

For badges, I would say it is between the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) I earned in Grenada and the Master EOD badge. I think that ultimately it would be the Master EOD badge. EOD school is one of the hardest academic schools in the military. EOD is a small elite group that performs a dangerous job in the hope that it will save lives. The best part of EOD is the camaraderie and the life long bonds that are formed.
WHICH INDIVIDUAL(S) FROM YOUR TIME IN THE MILITARY STAND OUT AS HAVING THE MOST POSITIVE IMPACT ON YOU AND WHY?
SGM Richard M. "Mike" Land was the person who had the biggest impact on my military career. He was my senior supervisor in the 99th Ordnance Detachment (EOD) in Vietnam. He took me under his wing and we went on many EOD missions together. I learned a lot about EOD and leadership from him.
LIST THE NAMES OF OLD FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH, AT WHICH LOCATIONS, AND RECOUNT WHAT YOU REMEMBER MOST ABOUT THEM. INDICATE THOSE YOU ARE ALREADY IN TOUCH WITH AND THOSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO MAKE CONTACT WITH.
From Basic/Surface Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) School, Indian Head, Maryland it would be Chuck Watson and Mike Campbell. I am in contact with both of them today.

From Technical Escort, Edgewood, Maryland, it would be Steve Taylor and Mike Campbell. I am in contact with both of them today. Two that have passed away were my commander COL Dean Dickey and CPT Frederick "Fred" Smith. I have set up an ATWS remembrance profile for both of them.

From Vietnam it would be Richard "Mike" Land and Jim Ferris.

From 63rd Ordnance Detachment (EOD), Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, it would be Jim Smith. Two that have since passed away were SGM Ken Foster and SFC Charlie Stevens. I have set up an ATWS remembrance profile for both of them.

From 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment - Delta, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, it would be Dennis Wolf, Irvin Banta, Steve Dawson, Paul Geoly, to name a few names. I have set up an ATWS remembrance profile for my commander COL Charlie Beckwith, MSG Charles "Chuck" Chase, and MSG Tim Martin.
CAN YOU RECOUNT A PARTICULAR INCIDENT FROM YOUR SERVICE, WHICH MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE BEEN FUNNY AT THE TIME, BUT STILL MAKES YOU LAUGH?
It would be SFC Donald L. "Don" Briere. At times he reminded me of the cartoon character Wiley Coyote. We were in New Zealand in 1980 on a joint-country special operations exercise. We were on a recon mission to scout out a target site. It was just Don and I on the recon team. We had a tall steep muddy embankment that we needed to negotiate. I looked at it and thought no way. Don thought we could do it. As he moved across it, you could see his hands and feet sliding down. He clawed up and slide down some more. Finally he slid all the way down the slope into the water. I was rolling with laughter and said, "You want me to follow you?" I found another way around the obstacle.
WHAT PROFESSION DID YOU FOLLOW AFTER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING NOW? IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY SERVING, WHAT IS YOUR PRESENT OCCUPATIONAL SPECIALTY?
SGM Mike Vining - What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
I am fully retired and travel half the year with my wife Donna Ikenberry. Donna is a freelance photojournalist and I get to travel with her. I am the Army historian for the EOD Memorial. I collect and write about military, naval, polar expedition, and mountaineering postal history. We hike, backpack, rock climb, mountain climb, mountain bike, downhill ski and back-country ski.
WHAT MILITARY ASSOCIATIONS ARE YOU A MEMBER OF, IF ANY? WHAT SPECIFIC BENEFITS DO YOU DERIVE FROM YOUR MEMBERSHIPS?
I am a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the National EOD Association (NATEODA), and Vietnam EOD Veterans Chapter.

The benefits I get from those organizations is the networking it provides me with individuals who have had the same military experiences.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS SERVING IN THE MILITARY INFLUENCED THE WAY YOU HAVE APPROACHED YOUR LIFE AND YOUR CAREER? WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT YOUR TIME IN THE SERVICE?
Military service has given me the opportunity to do all the things I like to do: Work with explosives and climb mountains. I have gotten a chance to work with some of the finest people in the military.
BASED ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO THOSE WHO HAVE RECENTLY JOINED THE ARMY?
Stay in and make the military a career. The job is rewarding and the benefits after retiring are great. The military takes care of their own.
IN WHAT WAYS HAS TOGETHERWESERVED.COM HELPED YOU REMEMBER YOUR MILITARY SERVICE AND THE FRIENDS YOU SERVED WITH.
SGM Mike Vining - In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
Together We Served (TWS) has been a great networking site for me. I've been able to stay in contact with the people who served our country and with those who are still serving. I have been able to set up remembrance profiles for my fellow servicemen that have fallen in combat or have passed away.

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