Mike Cronin was born in 1941 in Boston, Massachusetts. He entered the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1959, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy on June 5, 1963. Ens Cronin next completed flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1964, followed by A-4 Skyhawk Replacement Air Group training with VA-44 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, from October 1964 to April 1965. His first assignment was as an A-4 pilot flying combat in Southeast Asia with VA-23 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Midway (CVA-41) from May to November 1965, and then at NAS Lemoore, California, from November 1965 to July 1966. Lt Cronin then deployed with VA-23 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), again flying combat in Southeast Asia, from July 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on January 13, 1967. After spending 2,243 days in captivity, LCDR Cronin was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries, and then served as an instructor pilot with VF-126 at NAS Miramar, California, from August 1973 to January 1976, followed by service as a C-9 Skytrain II pilot with VR-30 at NAS Alameda, California, from January 1976 until he left active duty and entered the U.S. Naval Reserve on July 1, 1976. He then served as a reserve C-9 pilot with VR-55 at NAS Alameda from 1976 to 1980, remaining in the Naval Reserve in a non-flying status until his retirement on August 1, 1992. After leaving active duty in 1976, Mike flew commercial airliners for American Airlines from 1976 to 2001.
His 2nd Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. On 1 June 1967, his captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.