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Michael Lynn “Mike” Menser of Rockville and St. Leonard, Maryland on Saturday, July 28, 2018. He was preceded in death by his parents George W. Menser and Helen L. Beal as well as his nephews William D. Menser and Keith G. Menser. Mike was the beloved husband of Joan Fisher Menser; father of Jennifer Menser (Stephen) Feldman, Maridith Menser (Michael) Malarkey, Lauren Menser and Suzanne Menser; grandfather of Caroline Grace and Molly Rose Feldman; brother of George W. (Carol) Menser II, David F. (Laura) Menser, Wade C. (Mary) Beal, Marilyn “Marnie” (Harold) Repasky, Gregory (Cheryl) Menser and James H. Menser; stepson of Marlene A. Menser. Also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and in-laws and by his beloved granddog, Olive Menser.
The Menser family will receive visitors at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, 917 Montrose Rd., Rockville, MD 20852 on Thursday, August 2, 2018 from 6:00 until 8:00 pm, where funeral services will also be held on Friday, August 3, 2018 at 1:00 pm. Interment at a later date.
Mike grew up in Meyersdale, PA and later served in the U.S. Navy, one of his most valued personal accomplishments. During the Vietnam War, he was stationed on the USS Forrestal (“the Forrestal”), an air craft carrier that toured through South America, around Africa and eventually made its way to the Gulf of Tonkin to support the U.S. missions off the coast of Vietnam. After less than a week at its post, on July 29, 1967, the Forrestal’s tour of duty was cut short after a terrible accident that left more than 130 soldiers dead and more than 160 soldiers injured. On that morning, a Zuni missile mounted to an aircraft awaiting takeoff accidentally fired, striking another aircraft on deck. While the missile did not cause an immediate explosion, it resulted in the spilling of jet fuel, which ignited and started a series of fires and explosions of outdated ordinances with low heat tolerances that had been recently delivered to the ship. Over the course of the morning, these bombs blew holes in the flight deck, causing jet fuel and flames to spread below deck to the hangar bays and berthing compartments where many sailors slept. The crew of the ship eventually contained the fire and worked over the next day to prevent any flare ups. While the tragedy is considered to be one of if not the worst disasters in naval history, the day could have ended much worse if not for the bravery of the men on board, including Mike.
After his tour on the Forrestal, Mike was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, presented by the Secretary of the Navy. The citation included in his award letter stated the following:
“For heroic achievement while attached to and serving in USS FORRESTAL (CVA-59). On 29 July 1967, having been driven from his berthing space without shoes or shirt by the initial blast of catastrophic explosions and fire, Airman MENSER proceeded to the damage control locker for Repair 1F and volunteered his services as a qualified fire fighting team leader. Equipped with rubber boots and protective clothing, he was dispatched to the after section of the ship where he found an access to the fantail. Although in great pain from badly blistered feet, he led the fire fighting team through intense heat and smoke, across the starboard quarter and onto the fantail, where his team contributed immeasurably to controlling and extinguishing the fires which were raging in that section of the ship. Only after receiving direct orders to do so, did he allow himself to be relieved from fire fighting duties. Airman MENSER’s courageous actions reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” Signed W. F. Bringle, Vice Admiral, United States Navy
After leaving the Navy, Mike met Joan and they were married in November 1971. He settled into a long career working for the telephone company and later, at American University doing telecommunications work, collecting memories and friends along the way.
Mike and Joan had four daughters who were the light of Mike’s life. His later years brought him great joy with the additions of two sons-in-law, Michael and Stephen, and two grandchildren, Caroline and Molly. Through his granddaughters, he was able to relive the joy of parenting while sharing with them the same humor and fun with which he parented his own daughters.
Mike had many talents and hobbies. He could analyze and fix any problem with an enviable inherent intelligence. He was the first person to volunteer to help others, whether it was a family member, neighbor, turtle crossing the road, or a complete stranger that just looked like they needed a chat. Mike thoroughly enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, doting on his granddaughters, helping animals, playing golf, cheering on the Washington Redskins, taking photographs and making his own frames to hold them, playing his guitar, being on the water (especially fishing), fixing anything, solving Sudoku puzzles and tackling outdoor projects, including cultivating the perfect green yard.
Many people who had the privilege of knowing Mike say he was the kindest person they ever met. And plenty say he was the funniest, too. One of his favorite quotes was: “It costs nothing to be kind.” Mike will be greatly missed, but we are all so much better for having had him in our lives.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Michael Menser’s memory to:
The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum and Visitors Center
22156 Three Notch Road
Lexington Park, MD 20653
or to USS Forrestal Association P.O. Box 225 Fort Loramie, OH 45845
The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum and Visitors Center
22156 Three Notch Road, Lexington Park MD 20653
USS Forrestal Association
P.O. Box 225, Fort Loramie OH 45845