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First Name: Michael

Last Name: McLaughlin

Birthplace: Munich, DEU

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Home of Record: Mercer, PA
Middle Name: Erich

Date of Birth: 29 October 1961

Date of Death: 05 January 2006

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served:
Michael Erich McLaughlin

•  Iraq War (Operation Iraqi Freedom) (2003 - 2011)


Michael Erich McLaughlin
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army

Lieutenant Colonel Michael Erich McLaughlin began his military career as an ROTC cadet and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Field Artillery in the U.S. Army in May 1982 at Clarion University. He was federalized for combat duty in Iraq from the Pennsylvania National Guard, where he served for over 23 years. He was the 1st officer and the 30th Pennsylvania Army National Guard soldier to die in action since World War II.

From 4 December 2005 to 5 January 2006, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Erich McLaughlin was serving as the Brigade Effects Coordinator, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized) while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

As the Brigade Effects Coordinator, LTC McLaughlin was instrumental in conducting key leader engagements. He personally met on numerous occasions with the Sheiks and the Governor of Al Anbar province in order to foster the participation of the local populace in economic and political progress, and further the transition of Al Anbar province into a unified Iraqi nation. As a result, he was a major contributing factor to the overwhelming turnout of Iraqi Police (IP) recruits at the "Glass Factory" in western Ar Ramadi during the 2 to 5 January 2006 IP recruiting drive. During this period, 750 recruits were screened, in comparison to "0" recruits at the previous event. LTC McLaughlin was not content with orchestrating and planning behind the scenes, but was an officer that led from the front. On 5 January 2006, he was personally present with his team at the Glass Factory in order to interact with the potential recruits and ensure that the Brigade Information Operations themes and messages were personally delivered to the IP recruits. LTC McLaughlin arrived at the scene at approximately 0800 on 5 January, and immediately assessed the situation and the unusually high number of IP recruits. At great personal risk and courage, his team commingled in a crowd of over 300 civilian recruits, in spite of known intelligence reports indicating the possibility of both grenade and suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (SVBIED) attacks.

LTC McLaughlin immediately took charge of the situation, instructing his Soldiers to be on the lookout for civilians capable of concealing weapons or explosive devices. Through his interpreter, he orchestrated with his charismatic leadership and organizational abilities the abnormally large crowd into a semblance of order. LTC McLaughlin further directed Iraqi Security Forces to treat the IP recruits with dignity and respect, in order to instill a semblance of unity and purpose among the Iraqi people in the immediate area. Subsequently, a suicide bomber infiltrated the crowd and detonated an explosive device, killing and wounding numerous Iraqi civilians and ISF/CF Soldiers. At this time, LTC McLaughlin was struck in the head by shrapnel. One of his Soldiers, Specialist Gibson, himself wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel, immediately checked LTC McLaughlin for wounds, who in turn, in an act of extreme selflessness, stated that he was okay, but to concentrate on saving the lives of his men. LTC McLaughlin succumbed shortly thereafter to his wounds. Throughout the period, LTC McLaughlin displayed extreme personal courage, selfless service and dedication to duty. He was a charismatic leader that always led from the front, and was the consummate professional, fully committed in word and deed to empowering the Iraqi people to pursue political and economic progress and to end the insurgency in the Al Anbar Province. LTC McLaughlin’s courageous actions that day earned him the U.S. Army's third highest award for valor, the Silver Star Medal.

Medals, Awards and Badges

Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal with 3 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal with Silver and Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster)
National Defense Service Medal with 2 Bronze Stars
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal
Armed Forces Reserve Medal with Bronze M and Silver Hourglass
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Army Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon
Combat Action Badge

Silver Star Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Lieutenant Colonel (Field Artillery) Michael Erich McLaughlin, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as the Brigade Effects Coordinator, 2d Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division (Mechanized), Camp Ar Ramadi, Iraq, from 4 December 2005 to 5 January 2006, in action against enemy forces during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, at Ar Ramadi, Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel McLaughlin's gallant leadership, personal bravery and selfless actions are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 28th Infantry Division, and the United States Army.


On 13 May 2016 a bridge dedication ceremony was held in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Michael Erich McLaughlin. The U.S. Route 62 and Pennsylvania Route 36 bridge above the Allegheny River in Tionesta, PA, was renamed as the Lt. Col. Michael McLaughlin/AMVETS Post 113 Memorial Bridge. The public dedication ceremony was held at the Tionesta Visitor Center and included military and public figure speakers and a cannon volley from the Oil City-based 107th Field Artillery Battery.


Lieutenant Colonel Michael Erich McLaughlin is buried at Saint Peters Cemetery in Butler, Butler County, PA.


Honoree ID: 5835   Created by: MHOH




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