Stories of Honor: Helena-area Army veteran Mike Russell served 2 tours in Vietnam

CURT SYNNESS For the Independent Record

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Mike Russell (retired) spent 28 years of combined service in the armed forces. He served two tours in the Vietnam War, two stints at Fort Harrison, and garnered multiple decorations, culminating in the Legion of Merit Award.

Russell, whose forebears helped found the town of Lincoln, is also the former president of the Sons and Daughters of Montana Pioneers Association. His great-great-grandfather Robert John Patterson arrived at what is now the Lincoln area in 1863 from Scotland with his friend Thomas Sloan.

“The two men came via the Horn Landing in San Francisco, and rode to Montana on horseback with a pack mule,” Russell, 73, recounted in a recent email from his ranch near Helena. “They were placer miners and struck it rich in Lincoln.

“My great-great-grandfather signed the original papers naming Lincoln, ‘Abe Lincoln Gulch.’ Patterson Prairie and Patterson Meadows were named after him and his sons.”

Mike’s father, Bob Russell, graduated from Helena High in 1941, before moving to Southern California. In 1942, after the breakout of World War II, Bob joined the Army Air Corps. He served as an officer and a glider pilot in the states.

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