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Killian on U.S.S. Little Rock during Yom Kippur War

Assistant Readiness Officer Mike Killian holds his daughter Elizabeth circa 1974. CONTRIBUTED
Assistant Readiness Officer Mike Killian holds his daughter Elizabeth circa 1974. CONTRIBUTED

MADISON – Assistant Readiness Officer Mike Killian enlisted in the U.S. Navy soon after graduating from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 1970.

He volunteered for the USN Nuclear Power Program. He received orders for Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, R.I. and was commissioned as Ensign in 1972.

“My birthdate placed me in the first Vietnam War draft lottery. My draft number was 186; the highest number drafted in 1970 was 195. I squeaked in barely. I enlisted in the USN to avoid the draft,” Killian said.

He completed USN Recruit Training in Orlando, Fla.; Machinist Mate “A” School, North Chicago, Ill.; Nuclear Power School, Bainbridge, Md.; Nuclear Power Prototype Training, Windsor Locks, Conn.; Naval Officer Candidate School, Newport, R.I.; and Damage Control Assistant School, Philadelphia Naval Shipyard. He served on U.S.S. Springfield and U.S.S. Little Rock in Gaeta, Italy.

“Gaeta, Italy was an incredible homeport experience. Often, my wife and other Navy wives traveled by train/ferry to meet the ship in various Mediterranean ports,” Killian said.

In 1973, Killian reported to U.S.S. Little Rock, which immediately deployed for its annual NATO exercise. “Our return to Gaeta was interrupted with orders … east/south of Crete. The Yom Kippur War, or Arab-Israeli conflict, precipitated redirect order. The conflict had global strategic consequences,” he said. U.S. Military increased its readiness state to DEFCON 3.

In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus. “The Little Rock was directed to sail to Cyprus to support evacuation operations,” he said. “My last assignment was Assistant Readiness Officer on Sixth Fleet Staff.” Later, he was liaison between Task Force 65 and Commander Sixth Fleet, contributing to reopening of the Suez Canal.

He was released from active duty on May 23, 1975.

A Birmingham native, Killian earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from UAH. He later completed a MBA with University of Phoenix.

In 1995, his job transfer with 3M Company from St. Paul, Minn. to Decatur brought the Killians to live in Madison because of Bob Jones High School’s reputation.

After joining 3M in 1976, he retired in 2009. Then, he taught chemistry at Calhoun Community College and Westminster Christian Academy.

Mike and Pam Killian will celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary in December 2017. Their daughter Elizabeth lives in Monrovia with her husband and three sons. Their son Paul, an attorney, lives in Huntsville with his wife, son and two daughters.

A member of Trinity Baptist Church, Mike Killian pursues many volunteer activities, like state and international missions. He enjoys time with their grandchildren, golf and their 22-foot cruiser.

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