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Sailor's e-mails shore up ties

January 7, 2002 

"We've been communicating more now than we do when he's here in Colorado," said Pam Erickson, 55, an adviser at CU-Denver. "We get to hear about new things he's doing, new places he's seeing. It's like getting to know your kid all over again."

When Mike joined the Navy in August 2000, his parents weren't the least bit surprised. The avid outdoorsman has a penchant for adventure, they said. "Even in high school, he and his friends would get together and talk planes," his mother said. "He knew all the planes in the sky."

He went through most of his training for the Navy SEALs but decided the special forces weren't for him. Now, he's serving as a sonar technician and dreaming about his true aspiration in the Navy: flying.

The Ericksons said they miss their only child, but their faith in his abilities outweighs their fears.

"You do worry, but you have to table those worries and get back to what you need to be doing," said Jay Erickson, 59, a marketing director. "I feel confident in the officers on his ship, and I feel confident in him. I don't anticipate any problems - Mike has the common sense and intelligence to get him through."

Confident or not, things have changed a bit in the Ericksons' Lakewood home. Christmas, usually a major production, was a quiet affair this year. They spent the holidays eating out, seeing plays and becoming reacquainted with old friends.

"We have a bunch of friends who are empty nesters, too, and we've all kind of migrated together," Pam Erickson said. "No one else has kids who are in the service, but some have kids who moved out of state. They miss them as much as we miss Mike. It's a natural thing - he just doesn't get too far from our thoughts."

As for Mike, he's busy writing a manual for Western State College's Search and Rescue team, which he captained while in school there. He's applying for Officer Candidate School, an arduous process to reach his ultimate goal of flying as an officer in the Navy. He's also thinking about his wife, Kris, whom he married last spring.

The only thing he's not doing, his father said, is worrying.

"He misses the snow, and he's tired, but he's doing just fine. He's got too many things to be excited about."

By Amy Reinink. Copyright © 2001 The Denver Post

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