Becoming a Soldier
Military service runs strong in the Echanis Family and while Mike was in high school his cousin, Major Joseph Ygnacio Echanis, was shot down over Laos and designated as Missing in Action (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=24338117).
According to his family young Mike, who early on showed a great interest in serving his country in the military, felt that if he could get to Vietnam under the right circumstances he might be able to learn what had happened to his cousin. Echanis skipped his high school graduation ceremony and joined the Army on May 12, 1969.
Mike attended Basic Training at Fort Ord, California, and then Advance Infantry Training at Fort Gordon, Georgia. While there he volunteered for Special Forces training and was accepted. Upon his successful graduation from AIT he went on to Fort Benning, Georgia, where he attended Airborne training in October 1969 where he was awarded the “Silver Wings” of a paratrooper.
Echanis, arriving at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, began the Special Forces Qualification Course, Class 70-18. Upon completing Phase II of the demanding course he and several other candidates were informed they would not be going to Vietnam upon graduation but rather to Okinawa where they’d be assigned to the 1st Special Forces Group (ABN). Mike’s response was near immediate. He, along with another candidate, terminated SFQC, requesting to be sent to Vietnam immediately. His request was granted with the caveat given his class standing that he could return and complete the “Q” course at a later date.