Michael Erin Magon

1968 - 2012

Marine Corps.
Iraq WarPersian Gulf

Their Story

Michael Erin Magon was born on the 19th of February 1968 in Sterling, Illinois to John and Bonnie (Minnich) Magon. Following in the footsteps of his father, who served in the Army during the Korean War, Magon enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1986. During the course of his service, he would fight in the Persian Gulf Conflict and the Iraq War. The course of his service led him to earn an astounding number of awards, which combine to tell his tale as an honorable and courageous marine.[1]

Magon’s first deployment was perhaps his deployment to Korea. Among Magon’s awards is the Korean Defense Service Medal, which is awarded for spending either 30 consecutive, or 60 non-consecutive, days after July 28th, 1954, serving in the Korean Theater. Since the United States has technically been engaged in a ceasefire with North Korea since July 27th, 1953, North Korea never explicitly signed a peace treaty with the United States. For this reason, the Korean Theater is still considered to be an active theater of war. Having been awarded this medal indicates that Magon served for some time in the Korean Theater.

Magon would then be deployed to Kuwait during the Persian Gulf Conflict of 1990-1991. Prompted by the invasion of the country Kuwait by the Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the United States intervened with other Western Nations as part of a coalition authorized by the United Nations Security Council. In Operation Desert Storm, the coalition Air Force destroyed the Iraqi Air Force. Shortly after, Operation Desert Sabre was launched by the Coalition ground forces to retake Kuwait:

Over the next four days, coalition forces encircled and defeated the Iraqis and liberated Kuwait. At the same time, U.S. forces stormed into Iraq some 120 miles west of Kuwait, attacking Iraq’s armored reserves from the rear. The elite Iraqi Republican Guard mounted a defense south of Al-Basrah in southeastern Iraq, but most were defeated by February 27.[2]

It was perhaps during Operation Desert Sabre that Magon earned his Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal, which are awarded to Navy and Marine personnel who “distinguish themselves by heroism, outstanding achievement or meritorious service.”[3] The coalition forces were ultimately victorious in their efforts, with Kuwait freed from Iraqi conquest.[4]

Magon would then be mobilized to fight in the War on Terror after the September 11th, 2001 attacks by the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center in New York City. For the next five years, Magon would be engaged with his fellow Marines in combating terrorist organizations the likes of which struck the heart of the United States. For this reason, Magon was awarded with the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.[5] Magon would serve two deployments in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, again against the forces of Saddam Hussein, before his retirement in 2006.[6]

Like many of our brave servicemen and women, Magon’s battle did not end once he retired from the armed forces. Magon’s family recounts that he showed signs of physical and mental trauma after his twenty years of service, struggling to seek help and reconcile his trauma with his pride in his service. Magon’s wife, Crystal, reflected on this dualistic struggle that haunted her husband, “Michael was a strong, proud Marine, and to be able to think that he could even waver in his convictions that he’s lived, moved, and breathed for 20 years… I think he did not like to even look at that side of service.”[7] Michael Erin Magon died on June 10th, 2012, his 26 medals and awards forever honoring the soul which he dedicated to serving the United States as a Marine. His struggle with mental health after his retirement serve as a stark reminder of the trauma our servicemen and women endure to preserve our peace and liberty in the United States and showcases the ways we citizens of the US can give back by striving to improve the care we offer to our heroes once they return from the fight.


[1] Kiran, By. “A Marine’s Toughest Battle.” Shaw Local. Shaw Local, June 16, 2012. ; “Michael Magon.” McDonald Funeral Home. Accessed April 18, 2022.

[2] “Persian Gulf War.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, January 17, 2020.

[3] “Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.” Roll of Honor. Accessed April 18, 2022.

[4] “Persian Gulf War.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, January 17, 2020.

[5] “Michael Erin Magon.” Veterans Legacy Memorial. Accessed April 18, 2022.

[6] Kiran, By. “A Marine’s Toughest Battle.” Shaw Local. Shaw Local, June 16, 2012.

[7] Kiran, By. “A Marine’s Toughest Battle.” Shaw Local. Shaw Local, June 16, 2012.