Michael Boyd Stack – Sergeant Major, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 325-04
Apr 14, 2004

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant Major Michael B. Stack, 48, of Lake City, South Carolina, died April 11, 2004, in Al Anbar Province, Iraq, while his unit was conducting combat operations.  Stack was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The incident is under investigation.

Memorial held for soldier killed in Iraq

May 3‚ 2004:

LAKE CITY, SOUTH CAROLINA – Family and friends remembered Sergeant Major Michael Stack as a deeply religious man and a soldier who had a deep sense of mission.

The 48-year-old Stack was killed on Easter Sunday in Iraq. He was manning a machine gun on a Humvee when his 12-man Special Forces team was ambushed.

Stack was buried Friday in Arlington National Cemetery. On Sunday, family and friends attended a memorial service at Lynches River Free Will Baptist Church.

“More than anything else, Mike Stack was a soldier's soldier,” said the Rev. Gerald Owens, a former pastor of the church. “He fought for what was right. And regardless of how you stand on political matters, I say hallelujah for that.”

The 48-year-old Stack, who had a wife and six children, came from a family with a long history of military service.

“Someone in our family has been in every war since the American Revolution,” said one of his sisters, Tammy Caulder.

Stack joined the Army in 1977 and later, in the 82nd Airborne Division got the nickname “No Slack Billy Jack Stack.” He joined the Special Forces in 1988.

Family and friends said he had a deep sense of duty and was a devout Christian.

He taught Bible classes at Fort Campbell in Kentucky and in Iraq organized prayer groups. Before his last mission, he prayed with the people on his team and gave them crosses.

Stack's life was “simple and complex,” said Cecil M. Stack Jr., his older brother and a retired Army sergeant. “Three things were important to him: family, God and the U.S. Army.”

Michael Stack also served in the Balkans and in Iraq during the first Gulf War.

Stack, who was two years away from retirement, had three grandchildren.

During the ambush, small-arms fire damaged two of his unit's machine guns.

Stack's actions helped the rest of the team survive and he was awarded the Silver Star, the military's third-highest honor for heroism in combat.

I Need To Go And Do This'
Devoted Soldier Is Laid to Rest

By Joshua Partlow
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Friday, April 30, 2004

The day before Sergeant Major Michael B. Stack left for Iraq, he talked to his brother, Cecil, about death.

The men, both career soldiers, knew risk well. Cecil had been stationed in Panama, Haiti and Grenada. Michael was a Green Beret, a member of the Army's elite Special Forces, and had served in the Persian Gulf War during his 28 years in the military.

But Cecil Stack, now a retired Army Sergeant Major living in Alexandria, saw Iraq “turning nasty” and knew that his brother, at 48, was within two years of retirement and had six children back home at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

“I said, ‘Mike, be careful, because this war takes Sergeants Major,' ” Cecil Stack recalled. “It's a mobile job. You don't stay locked behind doors; you're not at a desk.”

Michael Stack responded: “I need to go and do this. I need to take my unit over and bring my unit home.”

On Easter Sunday, the war took Mike Stack. He was killed during an ambush by small arms fire while manning a .50-caliber machine gun on a Humvee patrol near Baghdad. In the last e-mail Cecil Stack received from his brother — within two weeks of his death — his brother said that things were going pretty well and that he would explain it all over a good glass of red wine when he got home.

Yesterday, under a blue sky striated by the white contrails of jets, Stack was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. More than 100 people followed a horse-drawn caisson under the warm sun to his grave site. Stack was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the military's third-highest honor for heroism in combat. He was the 58th soldier killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.

Stack was not the stereotypical Green Beret, friends and family said. He was calm and funny, not a Type A personality, or macho. Former Special Forces colleague Mike Lasko said Stack would smile and laugh in the most difficult times. He never swore, choosing instead: “What the flip are you doing?”

The others were “hell-raisers and barroom brawlers, but Mike was different,” Lasko said. “He was always there to extend that hand with love.”

Stack had an artistic bent; some of his early drawings are still framed in his parents' home in South Carolina. He loved to cook — he would deep-fry turkeys for Thanksgiving and whip up jalapeño corn bread. He taught his brother how to make egg rolls. In his free time, Stack could be found fishing in rivers, ponds and the Atlantic surf. He was a devout Christian who taught Bible classes at home and organized a prayer group in Iraq.

He cherished his wife, Suzanne, six children and three grandchildren, Cecil Stack said, and “did everything to make sure that they were provided for, not just in death, but when he was alive.”

On Mother's Day, or when he was on leave, he would go with his parents to Lynches River Freewill Baptist Church, outside Lake City, S.C. Former pastor Gerald Owens said Stack distributed crucifixes to each of his men the night before he was shot. He prayed with them and told them to put their faith in God. At the church, he would arrive in his crisp military uniform, and to the “teenagers and kids, he was a hero,” Owens said.

One of those kids, Owens's son Andy, is now the news editor at the Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C. He said that whenever he saw Stack in church, he knew “he was a leader, there was no doubt about that. You just knew you were in the presence of somebody who had it together.”

Andy Owens said that he sees the near-daily stories about soldiers dying in Iraq and that they mean something different to him now.

“It's changed the way I approach my job,” he said. “It's not just news — these are people.”

April 29, 2004

One of South Carolina's Bravest is being laid to rest on Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.

Army Sergeant Major Michael Stack of Lake City was killed Easter Sunday when his convoy was attacked by small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire south of Baghdad. He was 48-year-old.

The Special Forces leader and South Florence High School graduate was also a husband and father of five children. He also has three grandchildren.

Stack had served his country for 28 years and was in his second tour in Iraq.

About 500 people attended the memorial service him earlier this month at a military chapel at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Stack was the 14th South Carolinian to die in Iraq since the war began more than a year ago.

Sergeant major made best of bad times

Sergeant Major Michael B. Stack could make the best of the worst situations, a friend and former Special Forces soldier said Monday.

”He could take the worst orders and sell them to a team. People would follow Mike. He was the finest noncommissioned officer I've ever worked for,” said Mike Lasko, a retired Special Forces medic from Fayetteville.

Stack was killed in Iraq on April 11, 2004, when his convoy was attacked during a patrol near Baghdad. He was the Special Forces company sergeant major assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He had spent time at Fort Bragg earlier in his career.

Lasko said Stack was killed while manning a machine gun on top of a Humvee. He was 48 years old.

”He was leading from the front. He wouldn't sit in the rear with the gear,” Lasko said.

Lasko served with Stack on several Special Forces teams.

Stack is the only Special Forces Sergeant Major killed in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, said Major Rob Gowan, a U.S. Army Special Operations Command spokesman.

He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Thursday with full military honors.

Lasko and three other former Special Forces soldiers plan to ride to the funeral on their Harley-Davidsons.

Lasko said the trip is a tribute to Stack because he loved to ride.

”On Mike's first team, we were pretty much a biker team. That is where he got his first Harley,” Lasko said.

He met Stack when both were assigned to Company A, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group.

Lasko and Stack fought in the 1991 Gulf War, working with the Kurds in northern Iraq.

”Mike was not only a brother but a friend and mentor. His sense of humor and his demand for excellence overflowed through the whole team,” Lasko said. He is 44.

Stack was eligible to retire but decided to deploy with the 5th Special Forces Group instead because he wanted to be with his men, Lasko said.

”He would be a great recruiting poster for Special Forces because he never forgot where he came from and his men always came first,” Lasko said.

Soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group have been in Iraq since the war started.

Stack was a native of Lake City, South Carolina. He enlisted in the Army in 1975 and served with the 82nd Airborne Division. During his special operations career, he was assigned to the 3rd, 5th and 10th Special Forces Groups, as well as the 1st Special Warfare Training Group at Fort Bragg.

Stack came from a military family. His father, Cecil, was a retired First Sergeant. His brother, Cecil Jr., is a retired Sergeant Major and his nephew, Specialist Jonathon Stack, is assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division's public affairs office.

Stack is survived by his wife, Victoria Suzanne; three daughters, Milissa, Virginia and Jillian; and three sons, Bryan, David and William.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 04/12/1994 – 04/11/2004
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/05/1956
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/11/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 04/29/2004

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  • IRAQ
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 04/05/1956
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/11/2004

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