Mike was born and raised in Steelton, PA located just south of Harrisburg. After obtaining an FAA Private Pilot's License he enlisted in the US Army in January 1966 with the aspirations of becoming a warrant officer helicopter pilot. However, while in basic training at Ft. Jackson he was accepted into the Infantry Officer Candidate School at Ft. Benning. Upon completion of OCS Mike was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and sent to Rotary Wing Officer's Training.
In April of 1968, after receiving his wings, he was sent to Vietnam to serve with the 195th Assault Helicopter Company. On 4 October 1968 just after receiving his aircraft commander's rating, Mike was shot down while flying troops into a hot Landing Zone, (LZ). While on the ground, he was hit by a mortar fragment from a VC round that penetrated his skull and lodged in the right occipital part of his brain. SP4 Duane Garver, a medic from the 9th Infantry Division revived Mike and a medivac helicopter flew him to the 24th Evacuation Hospital. There, he underwent neurosurgery to remove the shrapnel from his brain. Mike was then evacuated
to an Army Hospital in Japan and then finally to Walter Reed AH.
After convalescing at Walter Reed for four months, Mike returned to active duty. In June of 1971 he returned to Vietnam and flew another tour; serving as the Operations Officer of the
61st Assault Helicopter Company with the rank of Captain.
Mike resigned his commission in February of 1972 and returned to the United States. Arriving back home, he continued his education. In May of 197 4 he graduated from the Harrisburg Area Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. In May of 1977 he graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BS in Biomedical Communications. After working for the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Mike enrolled at the Princeton Theological Seminary and in 1992 received a Masters of Divinity.
Since then, as an ordained pastor for the Presbyterian Church (USA), Mike pastored the First United Presbyterian Church in Mingo Junction for 13 ½ years and the First Presbyterian Church of Toronto, Ohio for nine. He retired in 2014.
Commissioner Bongart is also is a member in the following organizations:
American Legion- (53 yrs.), American Legion Riders (3 yrs.), HOG (5yrs.), VFW (51 yrs.), AMVETS (16 yrs.), DAV (27 yrs.), Military Order of the Purple Heart ( 10 yrs.), Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (life member),Vietnam Veterans Support Group, Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery, Toronto Lodge #583 F & AM of Ohio, USGA (25 yrs.), International Association for Near Death Studies (5 years),Upper Ohio Valley Camera Club, Western Pennsylvania Triumph Association, and a member of the Two Ridges Presbyterian Church Choir.
Veteran Commissioner Michael Bongart is eager to meet and serve his fellow veterans here in Jefferson County, Ohio.