PATRIOTISM: Mike Carroll
Following the September 11 attacks, this IBO underwent hip surgery in order to re-enlist in the Navy at 49.
After qualifying as an Emerald in 1992, Mike Carroll felt financially secure enough to leave the U.S. Navy, where he had been a SEAL and achieved the rank of senior chief petty officer, and devote more time to being a husband and father.
But Mike says the September 11 terrorist attacks released “a very angry spirit” inside of him and, at age 44, he tried to re-enlist soon afterward. He was initially turned down because of hip problems that developed from years of physically demanding training and missions. Then, surgical advances in hip repair provided him the opportunity in 2006 to rejoin the Navy as a 49-year-old. The following year he deployed with his special forces team to Iraq, where he was responsible for gathering intelligence information.
For his efforts, Mike Carroll is the recipient of the 2012 Amway Hero Award for Patriotism.
“It’s very humbling that I was picked among all the people that served, as far as Amway distributors,” he says.
Real heroes didn’t return home
Mike doesn’t consider himself a hero, though, saying that description should be reserved for others. “I had friends that were killed and didn’t come home. So I don’t feel anywhere close to (being) a hero.”
He and his wife of 26 years, Robin, and their three children call Coronado, California, home.
The pounding that Mike’s body took during his years as a SEAL – he skydived more than 3,000 times – damaged both of his hips and made it hard for him to make certain movements.
“Basically, I was in so much pain that I was looking for relief,” he recalls. “I couldn’t do anything physically with my kids and that was frustrating.”
When he initially tried to re-enlist in the Navy, he was told that he was too young for a full hip replacement. But a few years later, he underwent a new surgical procedure that replaced the outside of his hip joint and allowed him to move again the way he used to. He received age and medical waivers, and was back in the Navy.
Returning to the Navy provided Mike’s children with another chance to be proud of their father.
After returning from his tour of duty in Iraq, Mike continued training SEALs until retiring last year from active duty for good. Now 55 and a Diamond, he admits that when he joined the Navy in 1976,
it was more out of a passion for scuba diving and the desire to learn underwater welding than out of patriotic duty. It wasn’t until he was presented the Amway Plan one weekend in 1987 that he fully understood the meaning of patriotism, he says. He immediately became an Independent Business Owner.
“Patriotism was truly exposed to me that weekend.
I really understood, for the first time, the true history of our country.”
— MIKE CARROLL
Finds true patriotism in Amway plan
“Patriotism was truly exposed to me that weekend,” Mike recalls. “I really understood, for the first time, the true history of our country and learned the foundation of it. After that weekend, I was determined to build an Amway™ business because of what it stood for, the American way, and seeing what free enterprise has done for our country.”
At his own presentations of the Plan today, he passes along this story.
“Every time I showed the Plan, every time I was able to speak on stage, I was able to share my testimony of patriotism, of how I became a patriot because of the business,” he says.
As in many military families, Mike’s children are following in his footsteps along their own path of patriotism. Daughter Kaitlin, 23, serves in the U.S. Air Force; son Michael, 20, plans to join the Navy in 2013 and become a SEAL like his father; and son Christian, 16, wants to be a Navy pilot.
“Because of my influence in the business, being a Diamond and having the organization, I’ve influenced a lot of children to serve in the military because of what they’ve seen me do,” Mike says. “I think my call to duty now is serving more people in the Amway business.”
Hero photos from Achievers 2012 on Flickr: