Misericordia University alumnus Frank J. Michael III, a U.S. Navy captain and a member of the class of 1986, welcomed the largest freshman class in the 88-year history of the institution to campus on Aug. 23 by providing them with four pieces of sage advice: "work hard, stay focused, have fun and stand tall" during the annual convocation ceremony in the Wells Fargo Amphitheater.
"Work hard, each and every day," said Capt. Michael, assigned to the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group in Newport, R.I. "You just can't get around it. Just passing or meeting a minimum should never be your measure; let excellence be your benchmark. This university will do many things for you, but it won't do your work - that's on you. Your commitment to excel and achieve your personal best will be rewarded."
A native of Dallas, Capt. Michael earned his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at Misericordia in 1986 and shortly thereafter launched his career in the military. He has experienced the turbulence of the Middle East, the scenic beauty of Africa and exotic cultures of the Orient in Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia during his 26 years in the Navy.
The Navy has recognized his service to country and humankind by presenting him with the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, two Meritorious Service Medals and an Air Medal.
During the convocation ceremony, which marks the start of the new academic year at MU, Capt. Michael also told the 524 members of the freshman class how important it is for them to pay attention to details, while managing to save some time to have fun and enjoy their collegiate careers.
"Some of the most exciting and rewarding times of your life will happen during your four years here," he told the freshmen, and their family and friends in the audience. "The closest friendships you will ever have will be made right here among this group of men and women sitting next to you. You will come to regard this faculty not just as teaching professionals, but as some of the best life coaches and mentors you will ever know."
Capt. Michael earned an officer's commission in the Navy through Aviation Officer Candidate School and was designated a naval aviator in December 1988. Following initial flight training, he reported to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL)-32 at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. where he completed three deployments. He then reported as a flight instructor to Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Milton, Fla. where he also earned a Master of Arts degree in public administration from the University of West Florida.
In June 1995, Capt. Michael reported to the amphibious assault ship USS Guam (LPH 9), Naval Station Norfolk, Va. where he made a Mediterranean Sea deployment and earned his Officer of the Deck Underway qualification. Following flight transition to the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, he reported to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL-43) Naval Air Station, North Island, Calif. where he deployed to the Western Pacific and served as the squadron's maintenance officer.
He reported to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL-47) as the Executive Officer in May 2003 and 16 months later assumed command of the squadron while under way on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), the fifth Nimitz-class supercarrier in the Navy. Under his command, HSL-47 completed a Western Pacific deployment with Carrier Air Wing Two and the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group as the first Seahawk helicopter (SH-60B) squadron ever to integrate with a Carrier Air Wing. His squadron played a leading role in Operation Unified Assistance, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to the northern region of Indonesia that was devastated by a tsunami in 2004.
Soon after returning from deployment, Capt. Michael led a combined east and west coast helicopter search-and-rescue operation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. As a helicopter commander, he rescued 69 people from rooftops in New Orleans, La.
In July 2008, Capt. Michael reported to the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) as the ship's executive officer to complete a Western Pacific deployment. In January 2010, he assumed command of the Boxer and completed a second Western Pacific deployment.
Capt. Michael's staff tours include Flag Aide to Commander, Naval Air Forces and assignment to the Operations Directorate of the Joint Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff. His next assignment will be to the Navy Staff in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
Capt. Michael is the son of Frank J. Michael Jr. and Patricia A. "Polly" Michael, of Dallas. He currently resides in San Diego, Calif. with his wife of 22 years, the former Bridget Farrell of Wilkes-Barre, and their children, John, Mary and Elizabeth.