Mike McGrath was born in 1939 in Delta, Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado for one year prior to entering the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958, and he was commissioned in the U.S. Navy on June 6, 1962. McGrath served temporary duty on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) from June to September 1962, and then began flight training at NAS Pensacola, Florida. He completed flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator on November 22, 1963, at NAS Chase Field, Texas. McGrath then served as a flight instructor with VT-2 "The Doerbirds" at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, from November 1963 to October 1964. He joined the Replacement Air Group at NAS Lemoore, California, where he flew the A-4C Skyhawk from October 1964 to May 1965, before joining VA-146 "The Blue Diamonds", flying off USS Ranger (CVA-61) for 157 combat missions in Southeast Asia, and off USS Constellation (CV-64) for his last 22 combat missions before being shot down by antiaircraft fire on June 30, 1967. He was taken as a Prisoner of War and held captive for 2,075 days, and was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. After hospitalization, McGrath attended the Naval Postgraduate School from January 1974 to September 1975, where he received his Masters degree in Financial Management. From September 1975 to July 1977, he served with VA-195 "The Dambusters", flying the A-7E Corsair II with cruises on board USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He next served as Executive Officer and later Commander of VA-97 "The Warhawks" from July 1977 to July 1980, with cruises aboard USS Coral Sea (CVA-43). Capt McGrath's next assignment was as a Department Head at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served from July 1980 to July 1982. He was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency as a student at the Defense Intelligence College and in the Defense Language Institute from July 1982 to October 1983, to prepare him for service as Naval Attache in Quito, Ecuador, where he served from October 1983 to October 1986. Capt McGrath next served in Washington, D.C., where he was debriefed and processed for retirement, retiring from the Navy on January 10, 1987. After retiring from the Navy, Mike flew for United Airlines. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2003 and was presented with the Medal of Courage. Mike McGrath is a former two-time President of NAM-POWs Corp and is currently serving as the NAM-POWs Historian. He is married to the former Marlene Hanuschak of Youngstown, Ohio.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from July 1967 to May 1969. His captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected then-Lieutenant McGrath to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through resistance to those brutalities, Lieutenant Commander McGrath contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his strong determination, extraordinary courage, resourcefulness, and selfless devotion to duty, Lieutenant Commander McGrath reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.