Michael I. "Mike" Lampe was born in Bremerton, Washington, on 29 August 1949 and graduated from Kitsap High School in 1968. He completed Air Force basic military training in July 1969 and administrative specialist technical school in October 1969. Upon completion of a Philippine tour, he applied for retraining into the Combat Control (CCT) career field. In May 1971, he began CCT training and spent the next year attending many demanding Air Force, Army and Navy schools. In May 1972, Lampe deployed to Southeast Asia in support of clandestine operations in Laos. He was solely responsible for all airfield and flight following operations and worked re-supply airdrops and fire support via AC-130 aircraft for Meos guerillas.
During this deployment, he earned an Airmans Medal. In April 1975, while assigned to a unit in Thailand, Lampe led a team to Trot, Thailand, in support of the South Vietnam evacuation. His team transformed a soccer field into a landing zone, established a navigational aid and conducted non-stop operations for seven days. The team received more than 50 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters to evacuate hundreds of Vietnamese. In April 1980, he was assigned to a joint special operations assault force in support of Operation EAGLE CLAW. During this operation, he tactically deployed into the Desert One landing zone on the first MC-130E Combat Talon I and was responsible for establishment and operation of the northern landing zone. In February 1981, Lampe was assigned to the 1724th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, as the superintendent of the Special Tactics Team.
During this assignment, he was the CCT team leader responsible for the Point Salinas airfield seizure mission during Operation URGENT FURY, where he conducted a sunrise, 500-foot combat jump with a Ranger Battalion from the initial flight of MC-130E aircraft while receiving enemy fire. Lampe was responsible for directing airfield establishment, airdrops of additional personnel and close air support from AC-130 and US Marine Cobra gunships. From 1985 to 1987, while tasked to support a Joint Counterterrorist Task Force, Lampe responded to numerous terrorist incidents around the world, to include the TWA 847 and Achille Lauro hijackings during which he was the CCT team leader responsible for the planning and execution of all precision fires and assault zones.
In December 1989, while assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Lampe conducted the Rio Hato airfield seizure mission with a Ranger Battalion during Operation JUST CAUSE. He culminated a distinguished career with an assignment in April 1991 as command chief for United States Special Operations Command. During his six-year tenure in that position, he served for Generals Carl Stiner, Wayne Downing and Hugh Shelton. Lampe retired as a chief master sergeant in January 1998.
In April 1991, then-Chief Master Sergeant Lampe was selected as the command chief for United States Special Operations Command. He earned his aircrew wings by flying on AC-119, AC-130, O-1 and T-28 aircraft in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. His static line parachute wings have two gold stars representing his combat jumps into Operations URGENT FURY and JUST CAUSE. Lampe is also a military freefall jumpmaster, combat diver, special operations terminal attack controller and demolitions supervisor.