Federalsburg Man Among Victims Of Shootings at Baghdad Clinic

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Growing up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Michael Edward Yates Jr. liked to hunt and fish, his stepfather recalled. And the Federalsburg, Md., resident wanted to serve his country.

So it seemed logical that he went into the Army and became a cavalry scout. The 19-year-old enjoyed that assignment, said his stepfather, Richard Van Blargan Jr.

But on his return to Iraq after leave at home last month, some discontents arose, Van Blargan said. He said Yates was in counseling Monday when a fellow soldier shot and killed him and four others.

Yates was a responsible, "upstanding guy," his stepfather said by telephone from the family home. If you were in trouble, "he was the guy you wanted to stand beside you," he said.

He said his stepson was born in Baltimore and moved as a child to the Eastern Shore, where he attended Colonel Richardson High School in Federalsburg.

Van Blargan said he and Yates's mother, Shawna Machlinski, have been married since before Yates entered his teens. The blended family included nine children. Michael was one of four who entered the military. Two others have served in Iraq.

Yates joined at 17. "We signed papers," Van Blargan said. Yates held a GED, the stepfather said.

"He wanted to do something with his life that meant something," Van Blargan said. "He was following in the footsteps of his brothers and sisters" and maintaining and extending a "proud family heritage."

There had been a girlfriend. They broke up when he went off to the Army, Van Blargan said. Shortly afterward, he said, Yates learned that he was to be a father.

"He stood up," Van Blargan said, and paid child support before the child was born. Later, Van Blargan said, Yates would tell his parents that if anything was needed by mother or child, "get it to them."

He was sent first to Fort Knox, Ky., then to Germany, and late last year to Iraq.

Last month, he came back to Federalsburg on leave. He met a woman who was like him in many ways. Among other things, she liked to hunt and fish, and "they clicked," Van Blargan said. "She was a country girl and he was a country boy," he said. Although they had only two weeks together, he said, "they formed a bond."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company