Honoring Our Heroes
October 1, 2023 | View PDF
COL MICHAEL VERNE CHURCH: AGE 74
Col Michael Verne Church served 30 years in the United States Army. His Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Light Infantry. His medals, awards, citations, and decorations included: Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (2nd award), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Award (4th award), Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2nd award), Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (3rd award), Expert Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Ranger Tab and Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge.
ol Church was born November 3, 1948, to his parents, William Verne and Addie Church at Ft. Benning, GA, where his father was serving in the Army as part of his 30 years of Army service. He played football during high school and graduated from Ada High School at Ada, OK, in 1966. He completed one year of education on a football scholarship at Kansas State University, and then he transferred to Clemson University where he participated in Army R.O.T.C graduating as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a B.S. Degree in Economics and History in 1970.
Col Church began his military service August 8, 1970, completing the Infantry Officer Basic Course at Ft. Benning, GA, followed by three weeks of Jump School and nine weeks of Ranger School. His first assignment was at Ft. Bragg, N.C., where he served with the 82nd Airbourne Division as a Platoon Leader and an S-3(air) for three years. His next assignment was at the Panama Canal Zone for three years, first at Ft. Davis serving with the 193-Infantry Brigade as a Company Executive Officer and then as a Company Commander in the 4th Battalion 10th Infantry Brigade. He then transferred and served at Ft. Sherman at the Jungle Operations Training Center.
After his overseas assignment, Col Church attended the Infantry Officers Advanced Course at Ft. Benning, GA, for six months followed by attendance at the Defense Language Institute at Presidio of Monterey, CA, where he studied German. He then attended the Foreign Area Officers Course at Ft. Bragg, N.C. He was deployed to Bonn, Germany, for one year where he traveled over western Europe as a Foreign Area officer for one year. Col Church then received a Master’s Degree in International Security Affairs for western Europe and Russia from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, a one year program. He then attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA, for six months followed by serving with the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon for 2.5 years. He traveled to Vienna, Austria, four times annually serving as an adviser and meeting with the Mutual and Balanced Reduction of Forces in Europe talks. Next, he served as the Battalion Executive Officer and then as a Brigade Operations Officer (S3) with the 7th Infantry Division Schofield Barracks, HI, as the Commander of the 4th Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment 2.5 years.
Returning to the mainland, COL Church attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts university, Boston, MA, on an Army War College Fellowship. He served 72 days at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Ft. Chaffee, AR, before being activated for Brigade command serving 2.5 years as the Commander of the Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, GA. Col Church was then assigned as the Deputy Commander and Chief of Staff at the Joint Operations Training Center at Ft. Polk, LA. His last assignment was Senior Regular Army Adviser of the AL National Guard retiring August 31, 2000.
Col Church and his wife, Sarah, have been married almost 52 years and they have two sons and two grandsons. They first met while still in elementary school at Ft. Benning, GA, when both of their fathers were serving in the military. He has enjoyed hunting, fishing, playing the guitar, and writing, singing, and recording country music. In 2010, he became an Anglican deacon, and in 2011, he was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church. He completed ministerial studies at St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Seminary in California. He has filled in as a priest at the Anglican Church of the Holy Comforter at Montevallo, AL, and at St. Andrews Anglican Church at West Point, GA. Since 2016, he has served as the rector at St. Thomas Aquinas Anglican Church at Montgomery, AL.
Col Church’s conclusions about what serving in the military means to him are:
“Military service was a tradition in my family as my father served.” His mother also served as a civilian employee of the Army Signal Corp during WWII. His goal throughout his Army career was to take care of soldiers. He would like to be remembered as a man of God and as a soldier’s soldier.