Michael Andrew Sheehan
February 10, 1955 – July 30, 2018
Michael A. Sheehan passed away at 10:34 pm on Monday, July 30 after a dreadful ordeal with multiple myeloma cancer wracking his body, soul and spirit for seven, painful years.
We will always remember his independent, brilliant mind and his willingness to accept everyone despite their unique, and often, quirky personalities. Mike was non-partisan, looking through a uniquely, independent lens at issues, nearly impossible in today’s deeply divided and frazzled political world. He was a scholar and a doer, a green beret and an athlete. He always sought the win, even in chess against his son, and always against me in tennis! Mike drove himself relentlessly amid the most bureaucratic organizations to force change by his sheer will. Some of his contributions to name just a few include – identifying Bin Laden as the key culprit of terrorism against our country, changing the footprint of the Freedom Tower in NYC following 9/11, protecting NYC against future attacks, bringing together peacekeeping operations in Africa and spearheading stronger French/American relations in Mali, leading US military DOD drone operations and the special ops teams under Obama, working in severe conditions as a green beret ranger in El Salvador (as the sole American leader in his field operations and learning Spanish fluently consequently) and on the DMZ in Korea, and identifying the term “drain the swamp” for terrorism not DC. He supported women, working for the first woman US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. He was always supportive of my working until it was no longer feasible when he became sick, supportive of his daughter, of the many women he taught at Georgetown, of the women he worked for, worked with, and who reported to him. We will always remember him, statesman, soldier, scholar, father, husband.
- Visitation Thursday, August 9, 2018
- Mass of Christian Burial Friday, August 10, 2018
- Burial Monday, January 14, 2019
Michael Andrew Sheehan
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January 15, 2019
For those who could not attend the service, e.g., weather; TVL, and/or who were there in spirit, a recap, on behalf of our great, great friend and classmate, is offered. Mike had a magnificent sendoff, attended by over 300 from all walks of life, including many from the West Point Class of '77 , with our flag on the altar, as well. It was our final roll call with Mike, for a long, long march through service, and life, that began on a hot, hazy night of July 2nd, 1973.
Presiding @ the Old Post Chapel, Fort Myer, was the Catholic Chaplain, who emphasized Mike's service at war, and in keeping the peace. The service closed with a beautiful rendering of America the Beautiful. Mike would have thought it way too much, of course - self importance not anywhere in his makeup; he eschewed it, in all things. And, it's one of the special attributes he possessed, that made him what he is.
Mike's burial took place on a snow-covered hillside, Section 81, just opened. It really stands alone for now, as it should -- and is literally right behind the chapel, and across the road from the 4-star quarters. There are two much older headstones within feet of Mike's; these mark the remains of two unknown Civil War soldiers recently discovered at the Manassas Battlefield National Park in Manassas, Virginia...
“The remains of these soldiers will soon rest alongside other great American veterans in this hallowed ground,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith, who provided keynote remarks during that ceremony. Is that ever apropos; that one such as LTC Sheehan would be the first, then.
9/7/2018: Two Civil War Unknown Soldiers are laid to rest, marking the first burials in the area
August 17, 2018
Family & Friends,
I stand humbly before you as I knew Mike fleetingly for a mere third of his titanic lifetime. We all loved Mike who was a true original -- a man of passion, of integrity, who worked unceasingly against injustice.
He was a man of faith in God and all of us, a man of strength who always sought the win, and who turned mountains into roads. Mike was a warrior who served as a soldier in combat and to his country. He battled against terrorists and finally succumbed to the cancer cells that terrorized his body.
Like his namesake St. Michael the Archangel, Mike battled against evil to protect his people, called for action, protected us, gave us courage, love and light and provided us with knowledge and truth.
Mike was a true intellectual, a scholar and teacher of military operations and history, an inspiring leader and speaker. He read widely, such as reading recently about Western civilization foundations and, simultaneously, the humor of PG Wodehouse.
Mike had a great laugh and smile with those beautiful Irish dimples and blue eyes. He loved the warmth of the sun from El Salvador to Panama to Caneel Bay beaches where we spent our honeymoon and vacations with friends and family. He surrounded himself with all kinds of music from Cole Porter at our wedding to Bruce Springsteen as discovered by his dearly departed Irish twin, Dennis Patrick Sheehan.
He was a man of courage who fought many impossible dreams. He was like few of us, non-partisan, with a truly independent mind.
May we celebrate his life and may our Mike memories bring him incessantly into our lives, give us strength and hope, and temper our grief.
May he live forever in peace on eagle’s wings and may he inspire us all to be brave and bold, and to work together to right the wrongs of the world in the days and years to come.
August 13, 2018
I was so very sorry to read of Mike's passing. Please accept my condolences.
I know my parents loved to hear how Mike and his siblings were doing even after our generation scattered.
Mike clearly leaves behind a rich and wonderful legacy. I'm certain the grief is difficult for the entire family and I can only wish that happier memories carry you through the darkness.
August 10, 2018
The Dworkin and Hammerman families want to share our sorrow at Mike's passing. He was an amazing, talented man whose life ended too soon. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sheehan and Vasan families at this difficult time.
August 9, 2018
Mike was a true warrior and a terrific human being. He will be greatly missed and it has been an honor to know him. All my love to your family at this time of grief.
August 8, 2018
To Mike's family, friends, and colleagues:
our hearts break, for you and yours. It was all of our privilege, and honor, to know Mike. And now... it's all our loss.
We stayed in touch through the years, through his illness, and recovery, and often about the NY Giants, of all things, a shared passion, no matter where we were in life. We never served together after commissioning, except for The Infantry School right afterwards, but from our time at West Point onwards, there existed one of the very best connections that a friend could ever hope to have.
Mike Sheehan is West Point 77's shining star, and perhaps equally important, also one of the most unpretentious men we've ever known; it's a factor that's extraordinarily hard to find in highly successful people. It's among his many, many qualities that make him so unique -- and, so successful and effective, at whatever he did.
And it goes without saying, that "his" star will never set.
Sincerely, Ralph Masi, '77
August 8, 2018
Dear Sita and Family,
I was deeply saddened to hear of Mike's passing. He had a profound and lasting impact on my life. We continued to keep in touch after he left the UN, and he continued to provide his support, advice and encouragement on fighting the good fight in the UN. His mentorship and leadership example changed me, and now through me I hope another generation of UN staffers. He was a man of relentless initiative and action. He would frequently tell me, "always have as many irons in the fire as possible, you just don't know how many ideas or plans will actually pan out". I find myself saying the same to my own staffers today. I was so blessed that he took the time one night in 2001 to call me at home (after he was just appointed Assistant-Secretary General for Peacekeeping) to come work for him. I met him the next day in his office, we spoke for 45 mins, we connected, and he said, "you're hired". The UN personnel system fought him for the next six months on "proper recruitment practices" before the bureaucracy eventually relented, and I was hired to work for him. Only Mike would do something like that. My best years at the UN were the ones I spent working for and learning from him.
Thank you, Mike, for that phone call and all that you have done for me since. I am sorry that I will not be able to make your service, as I just arrived in Singapore, but will come by for a proper goodbye when I return Stateside.
August 7, 2018
Tragically Mike was taken early from a family and nation who relied upon him in many ways. His extraordinary career was cut short when he still had so much to offer.
Sorrowfully his son Michael will come to manhood without his proud and loving father by his side. His wife Sita has lost her beloved husband after years of faithfully supporting him through a long, harrowing, and dreadful illness. His devoted family will always feel diminished by his passing.
Sadly I will miss long talks with Mike about the state of the world, education, books, essential moral values and ideals. Mike allowed me to become a good friend, and I am so sorry to miss this connection that I treasured.
Rest in peace, Mike.
August 6, 2018
It was a privilege to be part of the team teaching Mike at Georgetown. He asked for some tutorial time so he could
learn how to improve his memo writing. He felt that maybe his way of saying things got in tihe way of policy makers considering what he was recommending. We did a memo each week drawn from his experiences.
Mike had a knack for getting things right. His track record , it turned it , was much better than his superiors. By the end of the semester , I concluded there was really very little I could add to his arsenal when it came to writing. He ended up teaching me Pentagonese for which I will always be grateful.
During his UN days we often met up for an early morning jog. We did our three miles and talked still about memos. Then Mile would stop and say he needed to do a stretching work out that would take some time. So I was dismissed. And grateful about that too, since I learned that part of his routine involved running another 5 miles.
He will always remain in my prayers.
August 3, 2018
I served as a CIA detailee (I was then a U.S. Army Military Intelligence Captain) in the early 80's at 4th Brigade, El Paraiso, El Salvador, a very conflictive zone. I was only there a short time, maybe four months. MAJ Sheehan had just left. For the entire time I was there I heard nothing but praise for MAJ Sheehan, both from U.S. and Salvadoran military. This was a tremendous tribute.
Years later, I now work at the Pentagon. I meet him in the cafeteria. I immediately recognized him from a few brief TV appearances that I saw of him and began a short conversation about his time in El Salvador. I had always wanted to talk to him. He spoke of details that he and I both remembered. I couldn't believe it. I regret that I didn't make an office call to go see him later.
August 3, 2018
I met Michael in the UN Security Council when he worked in the office of Amb Albright (circa 1994). Unlike many others, he struck me as someone who would listen to my advice. Our cooperation continued when I served in the Balkans as of 1996 and he used to visit our mission. Once he visited Zagreb (Croatia) and we had dinner during which I mentioned to him professional challenges. Little did I know that he would bring my issue to the attention of the most senior US representative in the former Yugoslavia and he would demarche on my behalf. I was then deeply touched how human and thoughtful he was. Our cooperation continued in the UNHQ in New York in early 2000, and he continued to be a friend I could approach. I was deeply shocked by the new of his passing as someone close has gone, that is how I remember him. May he rest in peace.
Senior Political Affairs Officer
Department of Peacekeeping Operations
United Nations Secretariat, NY
August 2, 2018
Its always hard to loose a pal, but this one is particularly hard.
Mike was one of my favorite humans, and his contribution to the country will always be remembered.
I got to see him last month in DC.
August 2, 2018
Born in the USA
A hike through the woods brings out bird song echoing all about
Thinking of a good Jersey Irishman gone today, made me want to shout
He was the spirit of Springsteen, Born in the USA
His spunk and intelligent look celebrated a man above cadet gray
The Beach Boy’s Good Vibrations lighted his eyes
Michael, a man of humor, wit, always a pugnacious surprise!
Man, could he get one tickled, especially when stepping out on the plain to Thumper!
Sheehan was all things writ, he was the faith spoken in funky Boss’s piano’s Thunder
Those Irish eyes smiled long and bright
Michael Sheehan captured many things right
His brave hearted question to military brass,
"Does Al Qaeda have to hit the Pentagon to get your attention?"
Michael, a man of honorable mention
He showed more than a little faith, he was magic without fright
I can see him singing along with Bruce’s “Thunder in the Night”:
“You can hide ‘Neath your covers
And study your pain
Make crosses for your lovers
Throw roses in the rain
Waste your summer praying’ in vain
Well, I’m no hero…”
Grip hands, brothers, hold on tight
Michael is our hero
Esprit de Corps stands tall, all right
TJF, July 31, 2018
August 2, 2018
Dear Sita and Family,
Mike was an icon that had a positive ripple effect on whomever he engaged. He was equally an intellectual and a friend ! He meant what he said/did. I am certain that Mike is with you in spirit still … as his spirit is too strong to ever die.
Godspeed ! Our sincere condolences,
Tracy and Bobby
August 2, 2018
Mike, The first man in our class to be mentioned in the NY Times as a commissioned officer. Great Soldier, great leader, great friend, see you at Fiddler's Green Mike. Kevin Benson, COL, USA (ret)
R. Mark Brown
August 1, 2018
So sorry to hear this sad news. Mike was an amazing classmate, a patriot of the highest order and clearly among the best of us. He was the true definition of Soldier-Statesman. To paraphrase the words of the Cadet Prayer; now that his course on earth has been run, it may truly be said, “Well done - be thou at peace.” We served together a long time, although our careers were like ships passing in the night. But I was always aware of his contributions and a little in awe. Peace be with all his grieving family and friends. Know that Mike was loved and highly respected by his USMA classmates.
MG(ret) R. Mark Brown
August 1, 2018
Mike was a tough guy who did GREAT things for this Nation. We served together - along with a very few other men just like Mike - many years ago in a dangerous situation that was ultimately resolved in favor of the 'good guys'. Mike was considered one of the very best then - and obviously ever since in a succession of posts of utmost importance in the Global War on Terror. While he and I eventually lost touch, I never forgot what an impressive/stellar soldier, scholar, leader and man Mike Sheehan was. The fight goes on because Mike showed succeeding cohorts how to fight it.
Jeff Cole, Marine Rifleman