Michael Longwell

Michael Longwell

A stampede not what resident expected on patrol

By Mary Kay Gominger

You learn to expect the unexpected. If three tours in Vietnam taught him anything, it's that. That's what Army veteran Mike Longwell discovered during one of his three tours in Vietnam from the mid 1960s and early 1970s. And there are some things…you just can't train for.

He was point man during a patrol on Artillery Hill in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. He was walking in knee high grass at dusk, staying low, creeping ever so slowly when he heard something. He stopped and listened, trying to make out what the noise was and where it was coming from. Next thing he knew, wild horses - an entire herd - were galloping straight towards him at high speed. Literally seconds before he was trampled, they veered off and disappeared, as quickly as they had appeared, into the landscape.

Mike said, “I had never even seen a horse over in Vietnam so you can imagine my surprise when I saw an entire herd barreling right at me. They came within two feet of me before they swerved off. I thought it was all over for me. Who would have believed that I was killed in Vietnam by stampeding horses. Luckily, I lived to tell that story.”

Mike was in the supply field throughout his 20 years in the Army. He volunteered for all of his tours to Vietnam. “I love my country,” Mike said.

He still serves, though now it's his fellow veterans of the AFRH. Mike has been a resident for six years. He remembers reading about the AFRH in Army Echoes magazine. Nowadays, he volunteers at pool tournaments, bingo and gives tours to prospective residents and guests of the AFRH. This month, he welcomed as a new resident his aunt, Bette Lakatos. Bette was in the Marine Corps during WWII. Mike is excited to have her at the AFRH and enjoys spending time with her.

Wednesdays are a big day for Mike - he holds a pool tournament in the morning, bingo in the afternoon and then he plays pinochle at night. He recently started an exercise program and is seeing results.

“The more active I am, the younger I feel,” Mike said. “I'm getting in better shape, losing some weight and am now able to enjoy doing more things.”

If you would like to be a volunteer, contact the AFRH Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn Weber, ext. 3410.