Posted by: annemartinfletcher | April 29, 2012

Thoughts on and from Mike Joyal

Linked In Photo of Mike Joyal My deepest sympathy to everyone who knew Mike Joyal, Lt Col, USAF, Ret., AFA Class of 1987. During a week that three American warriors were killed in Afghanistan, a drunk driver killed Joyal here at home as he road his bicycle. If you wish to honor him, you can make a donation to the college fund for his children, Jackie and Katherine, at Joyal Children’s College Fund, 15954 Jackson Creek Pkwy Ste B, Box 316, Monument, Colo., 80132 (make checks payable to Suzanne Roseberry).

I never met Mike Joyal, but he was a frequent reader and commenter on this blog and our careers were very similar. We both graduated from the United States Air Force Academy (me seven years earlier than he), we both flew C-141s, and we both flew for Vice Presidents in Air Force 2 (he flew the B-757s). You can read more about his life in this Idaho obituary. I will miss his discernment and dedication to our alma mater.

You can read  Mike’s thoughts about USAFA and service below.

On my speculative article, “Tragic Death Requires Investigation,” Mike Joyal said:

Unless you have inside information you’re not sharing here, it seems like you are really grasping at straws trying to tie this to something deeper, even in speculation. Why do you not think it might not be just a young man driving too fast for the conditions? Thinking this kid was troubled by the child abuse scandal at Penn State seems like a stretch. And the fact that he was in CS-20 and a football manager like Henning doesn’t seem damning. I’d like to hear the results of the investigation to see if alcohol was involved, but even then, college-aged kids drink, troubled or not. Is there something else you know that you’re not divulging? If not, I don’t think there’s enough here to draw conclusions.
On my article about depression in senior cadets, Mike asked:
Just curious what your 10 reasons were for staying. I’m a USAFA grad, too. Today I retire after more than 23 years of active duty and I’m spending some time thinking back on my career. Hope it was worthwhile for you. I don’t regret my times at the zoo although it was no cake walk at times.
After Mike inspired me to post “Ten Reasons to Stay at USAFA,” he said:
Anne, thanks for posting these. While I know you had some bad experiences there, I hope overall USAFA was a worthwhile endeavor for you. Being at the end of my 23+ year career and stationed here now, I have reflected on my time as a cadet and really feel it was a good thing for me. It would be very interesting to speak to female cadets (25% of the doolies!) now to see what has changed and what hasn’t since you were there.
Later, he added:
For what it’s worth, I’ll tell you about my experience with women in my doolie squadron that I think is a good representation of my experience with USAFA cadets in general. We had three women in our doolie squadron – Kelly, Kerri, and Chris. Kelly was a standout in everything she did. She was on the basketball team, a straight A student, and a great contributor. Last time I saw her years ago in a base ops in Europe somewhere she was getting ready to go to test pilot school. Kerri was the middle-of-the-packer, much like me. We struggled to get through the doolie year like most others, but managed to do OK. I was so happy to see her teaching in my daughter’s school at my last assignment at Andrews AFB that I gave her a big hug after not seeing her for 20+ years. That bond we all have after going through the zoo, and especially the doolie year, never goes away. Chris was the screw-up of the bunch and frankly, I don’t know that she cared. We dreaded seeing her name alongside ours on the table assignments for the week because we knew we weren’t going to eat much with her at our table. She ended up getting kicked out of the Academy – for what, I don’t recall. My point is the women ran the gamut, just like the guys. But for the most part, the women I encountered in my career were great officers and aviators, from Beth Martin, one of the best T-38 IPs I flew with in UPT, to Beth Burda, my primary instructor in the Twin Otter in my last assignment back at USAFA. I was proud to serve with them.
Those who served with Mike were undoubtedly proud of that, as well. I am diminished by his loss, and I will miss his thoughts.


  1. Anne. I was Mike’s supervisor for the year after he graduated USAFA. He worked as a protocol officer pending his follow-on assignment. We all loved him. He was very earnest and hardworking. Best of all, he had a great sense of humor and was a joy to be around. I’m crying while I write this to you. This is just so sad. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family.

  2. Anne. I was honored to have Mike’s wife Suzanne as my first Captain at my first duty station McGuire AFB. I had few encounters with Mike, but I know that Suzanne loves him deeply and how much they looked forward to having a family. Many years have passed; yet the impact Lt. Col. Joyal and Capt. Roseberry had on my life can still be felt today. I work harder, think more and ponder what’s the right thing to do because of their example. They were there when I was a new wife and when I gave birth to our first child. They provided a model of marriage and companionship that I hope to emulate. In the early years of my career I have often pondered, “What would Capt. Roseberry do?” In most cases I think I got it right. As time marched forward I was blessed with other shining examples. Each one holding a special place in my personal history and heart; for that I am grateful. The Joyal family will always have a special place in my life and my prayers.

  3. Kari, most people never learn the favorable impact they have on others’ lives. Thank you for your and Cheryl’s comments.

  4. I am moved beyond words by this post and the responses. I’m not sure how I happened on this post but I did today, for the first time. I am Mike’s wife. Kari, I remember well, working with you and being present with you and your husband for the birth of your child. That was such a gift, one which I recalled during the birth of both of my children. You honor us by suggesting we have influenced you so positively. Cheryl, Mike recalled with great pleasure his year after graduation working in the protocol office with you. It was the beginning of his great journey of 23 years in the Air Force. Anne, thank you for your words and for reprinting Michael’s thoughts. His love for USAFA is so evident. I share your struggles with honoring an institution that is flawed (I am a Penn State grad) but Mike and I shared the desire to honor what is honorable and resist the temptation to dismiss the whole organization over the failures of a few. Mike will always be alive in my heart. I loved him so deeply and I will ache every day of the rest of life, that he is not here. I am comforted beyond words that so many saw the beauty and goodness in him.

  5. Dear Suzanne,
    I was moved beyond the ability to reply to you or to Marc Henning’s mother, who also found my blog the same week. Three weeks later, let me say that I am grateful that you found some solace here, connecting with Mike’s thoughts, Cheryl’s, and Kari’s. I hope that everyone gives their loved one an extra hug tonight, in honor of you and Linda (Marc’s mother).

  6. […] who lost their lives in military service: Thank You, A Family of Patriots, Sadness to Anger, Mike Joyal, Help a Navy Seal. Today, I want to project their memories and my thoughts outward. I would like […]

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