Eagle Profile

Kevin A. “Mike” Gilroy is among the most highly decorated Electronic Warfare Officers (EWO) in the US Air Force.  Born in Menlo Park, California, his love of flying led him to enlist in the Air Force in 1953.  After 6 years as a jet engine mechanic, he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in September 1960.  Following Navigator and EWO schools, he served as an EWO on aircraft including the B-52 Stratofortress, F-105 Thunderchief, F-4 Phantom II, and F-111 Aardvark. He flew two combat tours during the Vietnam War, one in B-52s and one in F-105F Wild Weasels.  Gilroy deployed to Takhli Royal Thai AFB on 4 July 1966 as an EWO on the F-105F Wild Weasel and flew 100 missions in 7 months. 

On his 11th mission in theater, his aircraft was severely damaged causing both he and his pilot to bail out over water.  Rescued and back in the air on 10 March 1967, he distinguished himself on a pre-strike missile suppression mission over North Vietnam.  He guided his pilot, Merlyn Dethlefsen, in attacking and destroying a surface-to-air missile installation protecting one of the most important industrial complexes in North Vietnam.  Gilroy and Dethlefsen accomplished this feat despite the loss of their lead and another aircraft in their flight.  Although their aircraft had suffered extensive battle damage and was under constant attack by MiG interceptors, antiaircraft artillery, automatic weapons, and small arms fire, Gilroy aligned several ingenious close-range attacks on the hostile defenses, at great risk to his own life and that of Dethlefsen. 

Due to his technical skill and courage, the attacks were successful and the strike force was able to bomb the target without loss.  For this mission, Gilroy was awarded the Air Force Cross and Dethlefsen the Medal of Honor. After his combat tours, Gilroy served in various assignments to include Nuclear Weapons Storage Site Commander, the Air Force Chief of Electronic Warfare Research and Development, and Commander of the Air Force Electronic Warfare Center. He completed his 34 years of active duty as Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Electronic Warfare Advisory Committee in Brussels, Belgium.  Upon his retirement in February 1987, the Air Force EWO School instituted the Colonel Mike Gilroy Award given to the top graduate of each class.  Colonel Gilroy currently resides in Gulf Breeze, Florida, with his wife, Patricia, his son Michael and grandchildren Ragen, Michael, and Ryan.

Years Honored:


2006 Lithograph

Lithograph Setting(s):

On 12 April 1967, Mike Gilroy flew his 100th mission in the F-105F in the skies of North Vietnam.  During his 9-month tour in Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Gilroy and his fellow Wild Weasel teams destroyed numerous surface-to-air missiles systems at great cost.  For his bravery and excellence, Colonel Gilroy was awarded the Air Force Cross, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, 11 Air Medals, and the Purple Heart.