Mike Fogal always found a way to balance raising a family with military service.
Active duty for eight different periods spread out over four decades, the longtime Platte City resident earned his retirement after years of sacrifice. Fogal’s military service started in the U.S. Army at the tail end of the Vietnam War and continued through two wars in the Middle East with the Marine Corps.
Fogal’s story doesn’t necessarily involve harrowing tales from action but rather using his specialized skills to fill a needed role in the military.
At the age of 18, Fogal enlisted in the Army for what he described as an internal drive to serve the country. He was a member of the First Infantry Division stationed in West Germany for 2½ years.
Following his three year “hitch” in the army, Fogal returned to civilian life and completed undergraduate work at Northwest Missouri State University in his hometown of Maryville, Mo. He then moved to Oklahoma and completed his law degree at University of Tulsa where he met his future wife.
The relationship with Sherry Cox helped Fogal relocate to Platte City.
After becoming a licensed attorney, Fogal enlisted in the Marine Corps with the intention of serving as a Judge Advocate General (JVG), a position that advises on legal matters and oversees the legal community for the branch. Active duty in the early 1980s kept him in Rhode Island and North Carolina before relocating to Platte City — his wife’s hometown.
While the early active duty with the Marines took him away from his family for a time, Fogal remained in the Marine Reserves and began raising two sons — Zach (2001 Platte County High School graduate) and Brandon (2004 Platte County High School graduate).
Fogal worked for a local law firm, while Sherry spent more than 20 years with the Platte County Health Department. They became visible members of the community with Fogal spending time as a youth sports coach and serving on the Platte City Board of Aldermen from 1985 to 1990.
The stint on the city board ended when Fogal resigned to go back on active duty.
However, Fogal’s third stint of active duty meant serving as a judge advocate at Richards-Gebaur Air Reserve Station in Kansas City, Mo. He never ended up being deployed overseas and ended up released back to the reserves in 1995.
While still in the reserves, Fogal made multiple trips each year to the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado Springs, Colo. and remained connected to the facility until shortly after his oldest son’s graduation from high school in 2001.
Fogal vividly recalls finishing his training at the facility in 2001 — just a week prior to the September 11 attacks.
In 2004, Fogal went back into active duty and served as a liaison officer between the military and civilians in Iraq. He helped coordinate private and public donations to the Iraqi people and ensured meetings and needs of the people were met during a time of uncertainty.
Following his tour in Iraq, Fogal returned home in 2005 and resumed reserve status, and travels continued with work in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and stints in Japan, Korea, Iraq, Chile and Peru. Through all of the military activity, he remained connected to Kansas City during almost his entire 27 years with the Marines and Marines reserves.
Fogal built lasting relationships in Platte City, and he received a reminder of his hometown while in New Orleans on hurricane relief efforts.
Ryan Tobey, also a 2001 Platte County graduate, approached Fogal after a briefing and reintroduced himself. Not only had he went to school with Fogal’s children, Fogal had coached him in soccer as a youth with the two able reunite four years later through military service.
Fogal officially retired from the reserves in 2010 and remains an active member of the local veterans community. He can often be seen at local military functions — a unique member of the local military community with a lengthy history of service few can match.
Still in Platte City, Fogal now enjoys time with his wife, children and grandchildren. He also now has the ability to travel, but these days, he goes for enjoyment and can bring the family along.