From: San Jose, CA
Thanks for the posts everyone. I didn't realize Mike had so many "admirers" - doubt he did either!
Since, so many of you posted, I'll give you a brief history of Joe and Mike relative to WITP and gaming.
Mike and I actually met in 1983 in Richmond for the first ever WITP "monster game". We played the old SPI WITP but with a double blind format. There were three copies of the game in use, one for each team and one in the common area. There were about 8 players on each side and three moderators. This first game was really "Richmond against the World" and Richmond (a local club) played the Japanese and the rest of us (who didn't know each other) played the Allies. So Mike and I were on the Allied team. I was the ANZAC Naval commander and Mike was the USN Amphibious commander so for many game months, ,we didn't have much to do, so we became friends during this period I presume. Later in the game, with nothing more than DDs and merchant ships and a few planes I was able to advance into the Celebes area through Western New Guinea and Mike did a big invasion of Rabaul. It took 4-8 hours to play one game month in this format, so we didn't make it to 1944 even though we were playing 16 hours a day for 8 days straight. There were so many players and the pace was pretty fast, so it felt a bit like a war in the sense that you had little idea what your own side was doing, much less the enemy. You only knew what you were doing. Over the next 10 years, Mike and I played in all six of the WITP games in this format and even when not playing (for the week we gathered in Richmond) we were planning and preparing for the next game. We played both Allies and Japanese sides during those years. In the 90s I lived in Kansas and Mike and I were able to get together and play board games face to face. Other acquaintances we'd met in the Richmond games would show up at Mike's (a bachelor pad) for several days to a week of gaming on occasion. We played FITE/SE and Vietnam and Korsun Pocket, Atlantic Wall, Wagram (ME) and several others.
Up to the end of the 90s Mike had been a movie theater (multiple theaters actually) manager, but as the nature of the business changed, he eventually lost that job. I was able to bring him on to run my 24x7 computer operations group (usually 5 people in the data center) and he did that job up until the late 00s when he decided to retire. During the 00s, Mike and I mostly built several large miniatures games using the Command Decision rules. Prokharovka, Hannut, Budapest and Alesia being the largest. These games were run at several conventions including Historicon where Prokharovka won the "Pour Encourager les Outres" award.
One thing I remember was when we bought WITP the computer game Mike said, "And I promise to play the Japanese" ... which actually he never did except as a member of a team I was on. He just didn't like the "production system" or so he said. But I also think he got a bit agitated with his perception of SOME of the JFBs whose sense of history did not match up with his. Both of our father's spent WWII in the PTO but perhaps Mike's came away with a more negative impression of the Japanese efforts and that may have colored his attitude, understandably.
But Mike could be a very gracious host (as theater manager's must be) as well as an exasperating opponent, when the dice didn't fall his way ;). He was a hecque of a historian and could remember quanties and dates of change of 40mm mounts of USN CLs, as an example, something I was happy to be able to lookup. His passion was probably Napoleonics. He majored in history and had an "all but diseration" Master's in History. He studied under Dr. Millet (now at Ohio State) and Dr. Wilson (still at KU). He and I had many debates about many topics but always brought our historical perspective into the discussion and it is that "depth" that I will miss the most. The bulk of my friends and associates don't have that historical background.
I wander around my house and my brain thinks, "Oh, I have to call Mike and ask about X" and then I remember I can't. Mike is the closest friend I've lost in a while, and it feels strange to be so affected by a non-family member's death.
If you have any questions about Mike, please ask, I'd be happy to tell you want I know.
Thanks for the kind words, I will let Mike's sister's know about this.
AE Project Lead