More detail on this person: Captain Laurence Michael "Mike" Cherbonnier, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and friend, passed away on November 5, 2019 at the age of 79 in Houston, Texas. He was born on October 4, 1940 in St. Louis, Missouri to Maj. Laurence Ovide Cherbonnier and Kathleen Dorothy Shields Cherbonnier. Mike served an honorable career with the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of Captain and also serving with Marine Force Recon. Mike embarked on this path after graduating from high school, when he travelled to Parris Island as an enlisted Marine in the reserves and was sent to six months of active duty. He spent three months on Parris Island, South Carolina and three months at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina for advanced infantry training. Following his training, Mike remained in the reserves and returned to the Jackson/Clinton, Mississippi area where he had spent much time as a youth. Mike's father, Laurence "Pete", had been brought to Clinton, Mississippi by the Army during World War II where he was Commanding Officer of Camp Clinton, a POW Camp for German captives. Upon Mike's return, he attended Mississippi College from 1960-1963, earning a B.S. in History, Economics, Political Science, and Education. Mike had fond memories of his time in Jackson, especially the last two years of college when he taught and ran a karate school. Mike was highly skilled in karate and had the opportunity to teach in Memphis where one of his students was the famous Elvis Presley. After receiving his degree from Mississippi College, Mike wanted to make the Marine Corps his career. He went to Officer Candidate School (OCS) and then on to Flight School in Pensacola, Florida from 1964-1965 where he received his Fixed Wing and Naval Aviator designation from the Navy. In flight school, Mike was very accomplished, also receiving his carrier qualification on the USS Lexington where he landed both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Mike served in the Vietnam War as a Helicopter Pilot with HMM263 Helicopter Squadron. In Vietnam, Mike flew many missions including medevac, insertions, and extractions. On September 17, 1966, he was the co-pilot when his helicopter was shot down in a hot zone flying in emergency supplies for a marine regiment (Delta 1/4) ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army. It is well known that Delta would not have survived another attack without the critical supplies. While on a mission only a week later on September 25, 1966, Mike was wounded in action when a .50-caliber shell ripped through the bottom of his helicopter and through his left leg. The bullet took out two inches of his left femur. He spent two years and three months recovering in the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. After more than 10 years with the Marine Corps, Mike was medically retired in 1968. He received both a Purple Heart and Air Medal during his service in the Vietnam War. Mike loved his country. Mike's next career involved moving to Houston, Texas where he established his own retained executive search firm, The Cherbonnier Group Inc., where he served as President for more than 34 years until his retirement in 2011. Prior to the establishment of The Cherbonnier Group, Inc. Mike served as Director at Coopers & Lybrand, responsible for all executive search consulting services in the southern United States. Mike's extensive experience in executive search and consulting crossed most industry lines and were conducted globally. Mike was immensely proud of his family history. Mike's great-great-grandfather, Peter Camden, was Mayor of St. Louis in 1846. Another great-great grandfather, Calvin Case, built the first shipyard in St. Louis and helped finance engineer, James Eads, in the development of a diving bell. An additional family relative, Dr. Joseph Warren, Major General, died at the Battle of Breed's/Bunker Hill. Mike was also a man of deep faith. He loved his God, Lord, and Savior, Jesus Christ, with all his heart. Mike is preceded in death by his parents, Maj. Laurence Ovide Cherbonnier and Kathleen Dorothy Shields Cherbonnier and his sister, Elizabeth "Betty" Cherbonnier Lynes. Mike is survived by his wife of 31 years, Lida "Lily" Malek Cherbonnier; his children, who were the true focus and joy of his life: Audrey Theresa "Teri" Cherbonnier Allred and husband Mike; Debra "Debbie" Cherbonnier Okelberry and husband Scott; Banafsheh Baheri Unger and husband Mark; Christine "Chrissy" Cherbonnier Squires and husband Mike; and Ashton Cherbonnier Todd and husband Hunter; his nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren; and his brother Thomas David Cherbonnier. A private, family service was held on Friday, November 8th, 2019 at the Houston National Cemetery with full military honors.
Burial information: Houston National Cemetery, Houston, TX
This information was last updated 11/09/2020
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 01/08/2023
Copyright © 1998 - 2023 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association