Mike Chirio enlisted in the army upon completion of his degree at the University of Michigan in history and a minor in international relations. He was an ROTC member. He is able to speak several languages. He entered the army on October 11, 1953 and was sent to Fort Benning in Georgia for officer training. He then moved onto Fort Jackson in South Carolina for basic training where he became company commander because he was the only officer in the company. He stayed there for nine months. At Ft. Benning he was part of an experimental program (Operation Gyroscope) focused on keeping new soldiers together as a unit.
He then transferred to Fort Richardson in Alaska where he stayed for two yrs. He discussed the lack of fresh food during his time there and the excitement of the wives when his unit was transferred to Ft. Lewis in Washington where fresh food was available. He spent three years in Washington and was part of the 4th Infantry division there. He spent time at Camp Desert Rock outside Las Vegas for nuclear testing maneuvers. Here he was promoted to a First Lieutenant and then Captain and a rifle company commander. His unit returned to Fort Lewis.
He was then appointed to a position at Central Michigan University as an ROTC instructor. He remained there from 1960-64. In 1964 military intelligence became a separate branch, and he was invited into this unit. He was invited by a Lieutenant. General via a letter. His next stop was in Maryland outside Baltimore where he went for more training. He had orders to go to Turkey but they were changed and he was sent to Vietnam instead.
He arrived in Vietnam in February of 1965 as a part of the Army Security Agency (the electronic intelligence part of army.) Their job was to monitor communications including radar, voice, etc. and analyze it. They employed linguists, and morse specialists, etc. His unit was the 3rd RRU (radio research unit) of the 509th ASA batallion (Army Security Agency) and they were stationed outside of Saigon (on an airbase). He was the security officer for the group and his job was to keep the enemy from gaining information about what the group was doing as well as to protect the physical security of the staff as well (150 military MPs assigned to him). At one point his staff included an MP dog platoon.
When he returned from his first tour in Vietnam he went to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. In 1969 he was assigned to Detroit as part of the 13th MI group. He was in Detroit during the race riots, and his job was to run background investigations. His rank was now a Lieutenant Colonel. In 1971 he was sent on his second tour of Vietnam, as the Chief of Counterintelligence for the US army in Vietnam. He was responsible for all of the counterintelligence, including keeping information from the enemy, and interrogating POWs. He returned home in 1972, and retired from the army in 1977.
He became a professor of Military Science at Eastern Michigan University. At the time he arrived cadets refused to wear uniforms because of harassment. He insisted they wear uniforms, and he talked to professors to calm things down. He spent five years in that position, then retired and stayed on at EMU for 24 more years as the budget officer.