Naval Aircrewman Operator Third Class, AWO3, Michael Joseph Vecchio enlisted at the young age of 17. Unfortunately, his career was cut short when he was killed in a Florida highway accident in 2017. Michael was like a shooting star in the night sky: only here for a short time, burning fast and bright!

Michael was born on February 20, 1998 in Brick, NJ.  He was a bundle of energy ready to take on the world. Eager to please, he would often be the one getting all the attention as he bid for it with his showman-like skills and antics.

From early on, Michael envisioned himself as all the heroes that he watched and admired as a child. He had a vivid imagination and the confidence to right any wrong or just make something or someone better. He was pure of heart and always there for the underdog. Many stories have been told from others who expressed over and over again about his kindness to others. He lived that way his entire life.

Michael was naturally smart with a higher than average aptitude. He also had a good intuition to see others as they were. That made him good at understanding people. He was good at dealing with others and sized them up. Altogether, Michael was very clever and competitive. Quite the match for anybody’s wit or physical challenge bestowed upon him. Always looking for a chance to prove and improve himself with utmost confidence. Even when things were looking bad, Michael had a positive attitude with an optimistic outlook.

Michael was always striving for new experiences. He was bored with school and wanted to carve his own destiny. That ultimately led to him enlisting in the US Navy at the age of 16. One year later, at the age of 17, he was accepted. He identified with words like “honor” and “valor” and always felt the military was where he could best find purpose. There he would fine-tune what he was going to do with the rest of his life. Michael was ready for adventure and to see the world, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who also served in the Navy.

Michael was part of the first group of sailors being trained on the new Boeing 737, P-8 Sub Hunter Patrol. It was replacing the outdated turboprop P-3 aircraft. As an aircrewman in training on base, he was the youngest and least experienced but at the top of his class and trying to keep an edge. He worked hard to be the best version of himself and was headed toward becoming a future leader or maverick. The world will surely suffer more without him to continue his pursuits.

Fair winds and following seas for our fallen sailor, AWO3 Michael J. Vecchio.

Character Strength Story:

Bravery - Michael was fearless from an early age. When he was 10 years old he went to Hawaii to visit his uncle. They visited the southernmost tip of the island where there were cliffs that people jumped off of and into the ocean. While his father and uncle were standing at the edge trying to muster up the courage to jump, Michael came running up and off the cliff’s edge between them yelling out with his arms and legs still in motion like a stunt-man for a movie. The dumbfounded adults then sheepishly leaped in after the brave child 

—Submitted by Michael, Surviving Father

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