Michael Antill - Private First Class
- Bronze Star with V (for valor)
- Purple Heart
- Viet Nam
Michael Evan Antill was born on June 25, 1945 in Des Moines and grew up in Huxley, Iowa. He was the older of the two boys in Carrie and Hap Antill’s family.
The Antills lived in town in Huxley on a big 12-acre lot on the east side of Highway 69. That family place was a wonderful backdrop for the adventures of two growing boys – and needless to say was the site for numerous football, basketball and baseball games among neighborhood kids. There was always someone around for Mike and Boyd to play with.
It was also a great place to raise horses, which Hap Antill did – once there were as many as 13 horses on the property. Mike and Boyd did plenty of not-so-fun chores in the barn, but also got to ride and participate in local horse shows. Hap was in the Shriners Mounted Patrol, and the boys had great fun going along to Shriners events and parades.
There were summer days of swimming at Carr’s Pool in Ames, ice cream from the Huxley Creamery on Highway 69 – 6 scoops for 10 cents! – and watching westerns like the Lone Ranger on a black and white TV with a 13” round screen. Both Mike and Boyd were in Boy Scouts and wished they could have gone to “far-away” Camp Mitigwa on the Des Moines River near Boone.
Carrie worked at ISU in the media resources department handling the film library. Hap owned Hap’s Auto Supply in Ames located near Duff and Lincoln Way, behind the Tip Top Bar and Sinclair station. Both boys worked at Hap’s after school.
As pay for working in the store, Hap paid for Mike and Boyd’s college educations and bought their first cars when they were old enough to drive. They were sensible parental-type cars, of course, rather than the sports cars they would have preferred. Mike tinkered with his car at the Sinclair station next door to Hap’s, changing that un-cool column shift to the a much cooler floor shift, making it as sporty as he could.
Starting in the early 1960’s, the family started taking a week’s fishing vacation to Minnesota in the summer – the first vacations Carrie and Hap ever allowed themselves. They always stayed in the same place – Judd’s Resort near Bena, east of Bemidji. Serious fishing was always on the agenda, no matter what the weather was like. They all loved their stays in Minnesota where the resort owners treated them like family. The trips provided many wonderful memories and happy times. Mike met an Arizona girl named Sherrie Ravenhorst whose family also vacationed in Minnesota and she became very special to him.
Mike attended Huxley schools and graduated from Ballard-Huxley in 1963. He was active in sports and lettered in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was the catcher in baseball, a center in football, a guard in basketball and a distance runner in track. He acted in plays for the drama club, and played clarinet in the band. He was also in the swing band where he played a mean set of drums. One year, the group competed in Bill Riley’s Talent Scouts and won second place – earning them an appearance on TV.
According to his younger brother, Boyd, Mike was sort of quiet and easygoing – a well-liked kid who enjoyed sports and continued participating in them after he graduated from high school. Boyd remembers that he was the catcher on an Ames Merchants’ fast-pitch softball team.
Mike attended Iowa State from September 1963 to November 1966, majoring in Industrial Administration taking business courses. He continued to live at home, commuting up to Ames each day, and hanging out in the Union between classes to eat lunch and play a few rounds of pool. He also continued to work at the auto supply store.
Somewhere in this time period, Mike and Sherrie, the Minnesota summer vacation sweetheart from Arizona had gotten pretty serious and were engaged.
Mike was drafted in 1966 and left for basic training in 1967. Boyd does not remember Mike complaining about this – but he does recall that there were war protesters trying to stop the departure of his bus by lying under the vehicle next to the tires.
He had a rough time at Fort Polk in Louisiana – like many soldiers, he was sick and his military picture shows him looking tired and pale. He spent whatever leave time he had traveling to Arizona.
Mike shipped to Vietnam on December 9, 1967. On December 28, Private First Class Antill was at a listening post out in front of a patrol, calling in fire on enemy positions near Tay Ninh, South Vietnam. The artillery landed short, killing Mike and several other soldiers. He had been in-country less than three weeks. He was 22 years old.
Boyd said, “Mike was a normal small town boy. Life was easier and simpler when we were growing up. Our parents put us to work but we made our own fun since there was not much to do. It was hard to get into trouble in Huxley!”
Mike was awarded a Bronze Star, a Vietnam Military Merit Medal and Purple Heart and is remembered on the Huxley Memorial Monument in the Main Street Park.