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Mike O'Callaghan

In office
Lieutenant Harry Reid (1971–1975)
Robert E. Rose (1975–1979)
Preceded by Paul Laxalt
Succeeded by Robert List

Born September 10, 1929(1929-09-10)
La Crosse, Wisconsin
Died March 5, 2004 (aged 74)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Political party Democratic
Alma mater University of Idaho
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1944–1948
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Bronze Star
Silver Star
Purple Heart

Donal Neil "Mike" O'Callaghan (September 10, 1929 – March 5, 2004) was the 23rd Governor of the U.S. state of Nevada from 1971 until 1979.[citation needed] He was a member of the Democratic Party.[citation needed]


Early life

Born in 1929 in La Crosse, Wisconsin, O'Callaghan lied about his age to join the Marines at 16 and served until 1948.[citation needed] In 1950 he joined the Air Force and served as an intelligence operator in the Aleutian Islands.[citation needed] He transferred to the Army in 1952 in order to see combat and lost part of his left leg after being hit by a mortar round during a battle in the Korean War.[citation needed] He was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star.[citation needed] After his return to the United States, he became a high school teacher and boxing coach. He was Sen. Harry Reid's history teacher at Basic High School in Henderson, Nevada, and later promoted Reid's political career.[citation needed]

Political career

O'Callaghan's political career began in 1963, when then-Nevada Governor Grant Sawyer appointed him to head the new Department of Human Resources.[citation needed] In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed O'Callaghan to be the regional director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness.[citation needed]

In 1966, O'Callaghan ran in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor, but lost.[citation needed] In 1970, he received the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and won a surprising victory in the general election over his Republican opponent, Edward Fike.[citation needed] He proved to be an extremely popular governor and was reelected in 1974 by a 4 to 1 margin, the greatest landslide in a gubernatorial election in state history.[citation needed] He has been said to be the most popular governor in state history.[citation needed]

Still, he did not run for a third term and instead became executive editor of the Las Vegas Sun, a job he held until his death.[citation needed] He was also the publisher of the Henderson Home News and Boulder City News.[citation needed] In the 1990s he monitored elections in Nicaragua and northern Iraq, and was a strong supporter of Israel.[citation needed] On March 5, 2004, he died of a heart attack after collapsing during morning Mass in Las Vegas.[citation needed]


O'Callaghan's legacy as Nevada politician and philanthropist survives through three structures that bear his name.[citation needed] Mike O'Callaghan Middle School opened on the east side of Las Vegas in 1991.[citation needed] The Mike O'Callaghan Federal Hospital is located on Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.[citation needed] A bridge that is a part of the highway bypass around the Hoover Dam, spanning the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona, will bear O'Callaghan's name as well as that of former NFL player and Army veteran Pat Tillman. The Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge is scheduled for completion in 2010.[1]


  1. ^ Illia, Tony; Cho, Aileen (7 December 2009). "Buffeted by High Winds and Setbacks, a Bypass Is Making History Near Hoover Dam". Engineering News-Record (New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies) 263 (18): 18–24. ISSN 0891-9526/92. "(The crossing) is scheduled to open in November 2010."  "Construction of the main crossing across Black Canyon, "The Mike O'Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge" —named after former Nevada Gov. Mike O'Callaghan and professional football star Pat Tillman, killed as a soldier in Afghanistan—has not gone as smoothly as the approach work."

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Laxalt
Governor of Nevada
Succeeded by
Robert List


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