Veterans Day Perspectives

In recognition of Veterans Day, our public affairs team spent time with Mike Milburn and Dor Hirsh Bar Gai to learn about their experiences as veterans and how it influenced their lives. You can listen to the full conversation, or play the smaller audio clips linked below.

Both Mike and Dor grew up in military families with a strong commitment to service and began their military careers as young men.

Mike, whose grandfather was a World War I pilot and father served in the Korean War, began his training in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps as a student at Montana State University. He served as an Air Force pilot during his seven-year active-duty career flying a variety of planes, from transports to fighters. He then served in the Montana Air National Guard until 1998 (audio).

Dor, who grew up in Israel where military service is compulsory after high school, (audio) dreamed of being a paratrooper like his father (audio). He ultimately served in the Israeli army as an intelligence officer, which sparked his interest in system engineering and a wholistic approach to problem solving.

His team leader became a role model for him, not just because he was exceptionally kind, but in his approach to problems, diversity of thought, and intellect. “He had the biggest heart,” noted Dor.

Mike continues to fly today in a plane he built (audio). It took 15 years, but he enjoys flying loops and rolls in the sky. “It’s a little hot rod,” said Mike.

He also taught young recruits as a flight instructor, helping them to fulfill their dreams, which he said was the most rewarding part of his military career (audio).

For both men, the military influenced the next steps in their lives (audio) and inspired lives of service.

Dor summed up his philosophy on the importance of service to a cause larger than oneself. A common theme for both men (audio). “There’s so much value in devoting yourself to others; we’re all in this together,” Dor noted.

Mike added: “Everybody serving is important. When you leave military service, you can still continue to serve your community.” Something he has been doing by working to bring Montana’s first medical school to Great Falls.