Michael Neill Marshall, after a short illness, passed away at home Sunday Dec. 15, 2013. He was surrounded by his loving wife, Katherine Ione Morgan, and adoring children, Neill (Mary), Michael (Becky), Marjorie (Bobby) and Robert (Missy).
The family will host a memorial at Restland Coppell Chapel, 400 South Freeport Parkway, Coppell, 75019, on Saturday Dec. 21, 2013, at 1 p.m.
Mike Marshall was a man's man, a Marine's Marine, a cocksure aviator with an easy disposition.
He was born on May 19, 1938, in Gilmer to Marjorie Katherine Clemmer and William Neill Marshall. His family moved to Tyler where he attended Tyler High School, played on the 1955 state finalist football team, and graduated in 1956. He followed in his father and brother Patrick's footsteps and attended Texas A&M. In a letter home his freshman year he wrote, "Boy I am learning to respect what Dad and Pat have gone through … every time I see Pat leading his squad I just swell up with pride. I want everyone to know he's my big brother." He was crazy about his little dolls - younger sisters, Katie, Mary Helen and Louise.
Towards the end of his second semester at A&M, Mike applied and was accepted into the Navy's NAV CAD program. With his mother and father's blessing, he left Aggieland for Pensacola, Fla., and Navy Aviator flight school.
He completed training and transferred into the Marine Corps to fly jets … he got helicopters. His first assignment was Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay. His future wife, Katherine Ione Morgan, was a coed at the University of Hawaii. They met on a blind date, fell in love and eloped to Las Vegas where they were married on Dec. 17, 1960.
After separating from the Marine Corps, Mike accepted a job offer from the CIA-backed airline Air America. He and Katherine and their year-old son Neill moved to Udorn, Thailand, where he flew UH-34s in support of the Royal Lao army in their war with the communist Pathet Lao. It was a great adventure until he was shot down and had to evade capture. It was great fun until he made a navigation error, unintentionally flew over Vietnam and found the South China Sea. He made it back to base flying on fumes.
After returning from Southeast Asia, Mike was a helicopter instructor for the Army at Fort Rucker, Ala. He welcomed his second son, Michael, and then flew for a short time for Los Angeles Airways. In 1967 he was hired by his Braniff International Airways and flew as flight engineer. His beautiful daughter Marjorie arrived in 1968 and he joined the Marine Corps reserve unit at Navy Dallas. Robert, a third son and final child arrived in 1971 and life was put on autopilot … until his beloved Braniff suddenly ceased operations in 1982. Mike was lucky enough to get picked up by Piedmont Airlines, flew as a B737 Captain, and retired in 1998.
Post retirement found Mike and Katherine enjoying their 11 grandchildren, vacationing one month a year in Maui, and watching old movies together at the kitchen counter.
He was preceded in death by his mother, father, and sister, Katie and Mary Helen. He is survived by his wife, four children, brother, sister, three daughters-in-law, one son-in-law, and 11 grandchildren.