Observations on Michael
by Mark Mackowski
Citizen, patriot, teacher, innovator, friend, Marine – these are but a few of the adjectives describing our beloved Michael Harries.
Michael spoke often and earnestly about the role of the armed citizen and patriot in founding the nation and securing its future. Upon meeting him, one of the first things I learned that we had in common was the seriousness with which we both took this responsibility. His tour in the Marine Corps and his understanding of history undoubtedly nurtured these values.
Michael was a unique teacher. His style was very casual and easygoing, but firm in areas where it counted, such as safety. He made it a point to explain safety issues before each event, especially if he noticed a newcomer in the crowd. (Michael was also a gentleman, and newbies were always welcomed.)
He always explained, either before or after the event, what he was looking for and the lessons he wanted to impart. The after-event bull sessions provided even more commentary – and a fair share of entertainment, too. (Michael was also a natural entertainer and the conversation never waned.)
At numerous SCTC events, I remember him cackling with glee upon watching a participant learn a valuable lesson the hard way, and then mercilessly dissecting the mistake for everyone within earshot. If you weren’t one of his object lessons at least once in your life, you have missed a unique opportunity. Personally, I was The Lesson more times than I cared to remember, but far less often than I would now prefer. I was also fortunate to take some personal instructions from him, and each session was filled with nuggets of valuable information.
Most of you will recognize the significance of the title of this dedication. For those few of you who don’t, “Observations by Michael” was the title of his regular column in Combat!; it was just one of the many tools he used to impart his wisdom to his friends.
As an innovator in tactical shooting, his work will stand the test of time. I have never known anyone as dedicated to the advancement of the practical-shooting skills as Michael, and it was his mission to bring combat shooting back to its roots. As the lead Founding Father of SCTC, he succeeded in starting a movement away from the gamesmanship that has been infecting the shooting disciplines, especially pistol shooting.
Inventor of the famous Harries Flashlight Technique and co-designer of the Harries All-Purpose Vest, to name but two of his outstanding ideas, he will continue to enormously benefit his students and colleagues, based on his relentless search for perfection.
He suffered financial hardship because his chosen field is not as highly rewarded by society as many other, less important skills. Michael genuinely understood and accepted the vagaries of the free market, although it was a subject of much frustration to him. We would honor his sacrifice if we were to continue to teach and promote the very best of his ideas.
As a friend, he was able to pass along some of his vast shooting-related knowledge just by associating with those of us fortunate enough to know him. You knew he really meant it when you heard him exclaim, “It’s great to be in the field with my armed friends!”
If called upon to fight, all his friends would have chosen Michael to stand beside them. To Michael, this was the finest compliment a man could receive. With friends like Michael, enemies are much less dangerous.
Finally, as a Marine, he upheld the honor and integrity of that great institution every day of his life. If it’s true that the gates of Heaven are guarded by Marines – then Michael is already training the newer recruits to “repel boarders” against the Fifth Dismounted Hell’s Angels. For what it’s worth, my money’s on Michael.
Semper Fi, my friend, Semper Fi.