2009 Rising Star: CPT Michael Burns ’96

Michael Burns graduated in 1996 from TMI, where he served as Battalion Commander. He then attended the United States Military Academy and earned degrees in Engineering and Pre-Law in 2000.Following his time at West Point, Michael went on to Apache Pilot training and was assigned to A Company 3rd Battalion 101st Aviation Regt., with the 101st Airborne Division. In 2002 and 2003, he flew Apaches with his unit in Iraq with Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his time in Iraq, he had more flying hours than any other Apache Pilot.

Michael received a master’s in Management and Leadership from Webster University in 2006, and in May 2009 he received an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. He has returned to West Point as the Head of Minority Admission and as a mentor in the West Point Mentorship Program. Michael is also a camp counselor at Camp Phoenix Burn Camp, a Special Olympics volunteer, the Officer in Charge of the West Point African American Student Union, a mentor at Eagle Academy High School for 100 Black Men of America, and a Reading Volunteer for Boys and Girls Club of Highland Falls, N.Y. Michael lives in New York City with his wife Heather and their three dogs.

Michael believes that “all leadership must be servant leadership – once an individual puts his needs in front of those who follow him, he is no longer a leader.” Michael says TMI’s JROTC program helped him to acquire “the tools necessary to successfully lead some of the best and brightest soldiers in the world.” Michael’s strong faith has helped him through many dangerous situations: “as a Christian, I humbly understand that without God, nothing is possible.”

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