Oklahoma Man Killed In Afghanistan Honored By Family, Friends

Wednesday, October 26th 2016, 5:44 pm
By: Tess Maune

He set the standard for respecting others - that's what friends and family said about the Oklahoma man killed in an attack last week in Afghanistan.

Wednesday, the Defense Ammunition Center in McAlester held a memorial service for Mike Sauro. He and an Illinois soldier were killed by enemy gunfire during a training mission.

10/20/2016 Related Story: Oklahoma Civilian Employee Killed In Afghanistan

Mike helped train soldiers both in McAlester and overseas. His dad, Michael Sauro, Sr., said his son’s favorite part of his job was working with those soldiers.

The Patriot Guard Riders honored Sauro's family as they walked in to honor the man they considered a patriot himself.

“A guy that loved his family, that loved his country,” Sauro Sr. said.

And just behind those two things, Mike loved sports - specifically the Pittsburg Steelers, Pirates and anything involving his alma mater, Illinois State.

Mike's dad said his son initially set out to be a sportscaster but decided to follow in his father's footsteps, taking a job with the Defense Ammunition Center.

“Just having him working in the same organization that I was, it was just a great source of pride for me,” he said.

Mike moved up quickly within DAC - most recently a HAZMAT transportation manager and instructor.

Those who knew him best say Mike was the definition of a true optimist - a friend to everyone he met, adventurous and generous to a fault.

His dad said, “I always said, if Mike had 2-cents in his pocket, you'd win up with one of them.”

He never had an unkind thing to say; his harshest word was "knucklehead" his dad said.

“He'd call the civilians knuckleheads, but he'd call the military the greatest people he ever came across. He was just so proud and honored to be a part of them,” Sauro said.

Mike's sister, Brienne Matthews, said the some of the soldiers who work with civilians overseas are called Guardian Angels, they stand watch to make sure the civilians can do their job safely.

Sergeant Douglas Riney was the soldier assigned to Mike and his team - Riney was killed alongside Mike last week; a hero to the Sauro family, just like Mike.

“Sergeant Douglas Riney is a hero. He's a true hero,” Mike’s dad said.

Matthews said, “And my brother is more than a hero to me.”

His family said Mike's body should return to McAlester sometime this week, but he'll be buried in Pennsylvania where he was born.

Two of Mike's co-workers were also hurt - Richard Alford is recovering at a hospital and Rodney Henderson is back in McAlester; he was at Wednesday's service and escorted Mike's parents as they left.