Military service was Marine’s ‘true calling’
For some people, the decision to serve in the military is a momentous one. For Sgt. Michael C. Roy, it was a no-brainer, the result of a life-long ambition and a dream he’d had since he was a child.
“He used to sketch guns and bayonets and tanks and uniforms, anything military from way back,” said Julie England, a neighbor who knew Roy for nearly all his life and who his father said was like an “adoptive mother” to him.
And, to England, Roy was like a son. A son who died before his time.
Roy, of North Fort Myers, died on July 8. He was 25 years old. A member of the 3rd Marine Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, MARSOC, Roy was killed while supporting combat operations in the Nimroz province of Afghanistan.
Roy has three children, Olivia, Michael and Landon, with his wife, Amy Roy.
England, who is organizing a memorial service for Roy on the behalf of his father, described him as polite, funny and devoted to his friends and family.
“He was good, for one thing, he never was any trouble,” said England, who said that Roy, who was best friends with her son, Richard, was like a part of her family. England was also Michael Roy’s teacher for a year when he was homeschooled.
“That was our best year ever,” said England. “We just had so much fun that year.”
She said the service will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m., at New Testament Baptist Church in Cape Coral.
England said she will remember Roy as the young man who worked for her and her husband at their tree service each summer. She said she was always amazed by how hard he worked.
“He didn’t have to,” she said with a chuckle. “We were going to pay him anyway.”
According to his friends and family, Roy approached his military career with the same attitude and effort.
Described as a patriot with a strong sense of service, Roy had served eight years as a Marine, including stints in Japan, Haiti and Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan, according to England. Had he not been killed, he would have redeployed in January, she said.
“I guess you kind of think of him as indestructible,” said Pam Martin, 45, a good friend of England’s who knew Roy through most of his childhood. She said military service was Roy’s true calling.
“I know that he was doing what he loved to do,” she said.
“He always wanted to serve,” said Melanie Levy, a friend of Roy’s from church who said she had known him for 18 years.
“He really loved his country,” she said.
In is time in the Marines, Roy was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Navy Unit Commendation, three Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations, two Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, a Humanitarian Service Medal, four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons, and a NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan, according to an obituary released by Jones Funeral Home in Jacksonville.
A funeral was held on July 28 at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
England said she was told Roy will be posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star in the near future.
Though any conversation with a friend or relative of Roy’s begins and ends with his service and dedication to his country, he is also remembered by those who knew him as an equally dedicated husband and father.
“I know he loved his children very much,” said Martin.
“When he had his kids, oh my goodness,” said England, “that’s all he talked about.” Of his marriage, England said it was clear to her that it was meant to be.
“You want to find the one; that was the one,” England said of Roy’s wife, Amy. “They were crazy for each other.”
In his younger years, England said, Roy stood out for his generosity and kindness.
On one occasion, after her daughter’s husband had been severely injured in a fall, England said it was Michael, then about 15 years old, who stepped up to help out. He helped build a fence, she said, and a swing set for England’s grandchildren to play on and helped her daughter, Emily, watch after them.
“They would take the kids to the park after school,” she recalled of Mike and her son, Richard England. “It was their idea, Mike’s idea.”
If Julie England was a mother to Roy, then Richard England was his brother.
“He always hung out with his best friend Richard England,” Levy remembered. Asked what she remembered most about Roy, Martin gave a similar reply.
“I would just basically say Michael and Richard together,” she said, “running through the woods, fishing, always together.”
England said her son and Roy spent so much time together, looking back, it was hard for her to separate the two.
“It’s hard to separate them, because they were always together,” she said. Her son, Richard England, died of a chronic illness in March of 2003.
In addition to the service in Lee County, Roy’s father, also Michael Roy, is coordinating a second memorial service in New Hampshire, where his mother, Lisa Hickey, lives. Roy is also survived by his brother, Richard Roy of Puerto Rico, sister, Christine Soucie of New Hampshire and brother, Joshua Roy of New Hampshire.
The second service will be held on Sunday, which England said would have been Michael Roy’s 26th birthday.
Locally, in the town where Roy was raised, went to school — Academy High School — and attended church — Emmanuel Baptist in Fort Myers — friends and neighbors took solace in knowing that, though it was too short, Michael C. Roy lived a full life, and one of his choosing.
“I think that you could say that he died doing what he loved,” Martin said.
England said, since she had known him, Roy had wanted three things more than anything else.
“That was to join the Marines, to meet the one person he could spend the rest of his life with and have a family of his own,” she said.