Michael Lorrell ArrantsSecond Lieutenant
B CO, 25TH AVIATION BN, 25 INF DIV
Army of the United States
13 October 1948 - 31 January 1970
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The database page for Michael Lorrell Arrants
Michael grew up in what was then the northeast side of Austin just a few blocks from my home, one of a group of very nice boys a year younger than my friends and me. Austin was a sleepy town in the early to mid '60's - not like now - and summers were hotter than blazes with little for teenage boys to do other than playing baseball and swimming at Bartholomew Pool.
I don't recall now if my group called him Michael, Mike, or just Arrants, as boys did back then. Anyway, I remember chasing him down one sunny September afternoon when he was in the 10th grade to initiate him into Austin High School by cutting a wide swath into his hair with my mother's scissors, a school tradition. His mom, not knowing much about traditions, got real mad and I worried that she would turn me in to the boy's dean, who already didn't much like me for reasons I never understood. It spelled more trouble for me. But Michael calmed her down, the dean never found out, and life sailed on. The truth was, though, she had a point; his hair was a mess. For Michael's part, he had been initiated so he didn't have to worry anymore about the upperclassmen scissors ambush, unlike his friends who still ducked us in the halls and after school.
I went into the Navy after two aimless years in college and lost contact with everyone in Austin except my closest friends, who were already in some branch of the service or trying mightily to stay out of it via college deferments. No in-between in those days, do or die as they said. To my knowledge, Michael was the only one of his friends to go into the service, the rest going to college and several later on to law school. I'm certain Michael would have been there alongside them had he made it back. He was the only Viet Nam death from Austin High School in those years. I'm not sure about Reagan High School, the new high school that opened his senior year and from which he and his friends graduated, the school's first graduating class.
The last time I saw his father was when I was home on leave about 16 months before Michael was killed. He was at the Pizza Hut on the Drag. I didn't say anything to him. I sure wish I had now. I have often thought about the anguish his father and family must have felt.
I think of Michael every time I pass through the old neighborhood, wondering what he would have done with the rest of his life. A stocky, blond teenager who was on the quiet side and was thoughtful, he was a solid guy with solid friends and a good athlete who made good grades. It was no surprise that he served our country and it was no surprise that he wound up in an MOS most couldn't handle and many of those who could avoided.
Viet Nam, I guess, will always stalk my generation with passionate and venonomous memories, still splitting us like it did so many years ago, a bad memory that continues to follow us despite the passing of time. What is beyond controversy is the enormous sacrifice Michael and others like him made for our country. I wish it had not been so.
Rest in peace, Michael, for you have earned your place of honor in our hearts and minds.
From a friend,
I am a cadet in the ROTC battalion at the University of Texas, and I also spent my high school years here in Austin. With my commissioning in less than two years, I feel a special bond with those officers from this area who wore the 2LT bar. Among the many pages I've read here on this site, 2LT Arrants' bio spoke to me. I never knew him, but there is a hometown bond through which I feel we are connected. We are also part of the unique family known to the world as the US Army. I have immense pride and respect for 2LT Arrants and the sacrifice he gave in the service of our nation.
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Mike and I grew up together in Northeast Austin. This area in my youth was one of opportunity, where the sons and daughters of those on the margin of the middle class (state workers, Army NCOs) had a chance at going to UT and making good.
We went to church together on Sunday mornings and again on Sunday evenings at MYF.
Mike apparently suffered through family dysfunction, with his father Claire (USAF, ret.) being an admitted alcoholic (he warned us young guys about the downside of the booze) and an enabling mother.
He was a bright student and a good friend. He earned a position as starter on the line of the football team, more out of grit than out of athletic ability. He also persevered to become a member of the National Honor Society.
He was so bound and determined to become independent that he worked 50 hours per week at this fledgling store known as MacDonalds. His studying suffered, and he tried to join the Army in the spring of 1967. He had severe acne, and he was turned down.
In 1969, with the war and recruitments going downhill, he gained admission to OCS. After training and shipping out to Vietnam, he was killed on his first mission. We all mourned.
He was a good man and a good friend. He died at age 21. I am now 59. I wonder what joys, sorrows, opportunities and bliss he has missed.
I join Roger Rountree in my elegy to Mike.
From a friend,
A Note from The Virtual WallSeven men - four aircrew and three passengers - died when their UH-1H (tail number 68-15462) was shot down about 8 kilometers southeast of Thien Ngon airfield in Tay Ninh Province:
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 23 May 2005
Last updated 03/22/2008