The Chicago Cubs honored Capt. Michael Ariola, a public affairs officer assigned to the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, during their Military Salute at the Crosstown Series versus the Chicago White Sox, August 16, 2023, at Wrigley Field.
Ariola was born in Chicago and raised in south suburban Darien and Downers Grove. He credits his family’s tradition of serving in the Army with his decision to join the Army.
“Both of my grandfathers served in the Army during World War II,” he said. “My maternal grandfather served as an air traffic controller in the Army Air Corps in the European Theatre and my paternal grandfather served in the Armor Corps in the Pacific Theatre.”
When the time came to serve, Ariola enlisted as a commissioned officer candidate and attended Basic Combat Training and Officer Candidate School at Fort Moore, Georgia. He received his commission as an Armor officer.
“I decided to become an armor officer because I wanted to serve in combat arms. Being part of a tank crew was very appealing to me, “said Ariola. “Maneuvering in a tank during training is very exciting and in a combat scenario, an Abrams tank provides substantial protection and tremendous firepower.”
On active duty, Ariola was stationed at Camp Casey about 40 miles north of Seoul, South Korea for two years.
“I served as a tank platoon leader and executive officer with the 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat team,” said Ariola.
Ariola left active duty after sustaining an injury and transitioned into the Individual Ready Reserve. During that time, he worked on his master’s degree in international affairs at the University of California, San Diego.
“Near the end of my degree program, I received several phone calls from the Army Reserve asking if I would like to join an active Army Reserve unit. I missed the camaraderie of military life, so I accepted a public affairs position with the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command,” said Ariola.
A job he finds highly rewarding with the flexibility to serve part time while pursuing a full-time career.
“I enjoy being a public affairs officer because I find it very rewarding to tell the Army Reserve story. It’s an honor to highlight the accomplishments of the disciplined, motivated, and patriotic men and women of the United States Army Reserve, while helping to improve awareness of the Army’s presence, mission, and commitment to the American people,” said Ariola. “Being a public affairs officer allows me to work with diverse civic groups, local and national media organizations, sports teams, local governments and educational institutions.”