Commander Cyril V. May, Jr.
23 June 1940
Class of '62
Cyril V. May, Jr., was born on 23 June, 1940, in Amarillo, Texas. He attended Price Memorial College (HS), Amarillo College, and West Texas State University. He graduated from Texas Technological College with a BS in Agriculture. While at Tech he was a member of Alpha Zeta, Alpha Delta Sigma, the Aggie Club, Block and Bridle, and the Newman Club. He applied for the Navy Officer Candidate School on the Tech campus prior to graduation and was commissioned as a U.S. Navy ensign in December of 1962 in Newport, R.I. He spent the years between 1963 and 1968 on four cruises to the Western Pacific aboard two Navy destroyers, the USS Hoel and the USS A.A. Cunningham. These destroyers were deployed in Vietnamese waters providing support for attack aircraft carriers engaged in air combat against North Vietnamese forces. These duties included search and rescue of downed pilots in the Gulf of Tonkin, including the attempted rescue of a downed pilot via the use of a drone helicopter (DASH). From 1966 through 1967, Lieutenant May directed naval gun fire against targets in North Vietnam during the Sea Dragon campaign as the weapons officer on the Cunningham.
In February 1972, May, then a lieutenant commander, returned to Vietnam as the First Coastal Zone intelligence officer responsible for advising the Republic of Vietnam's Navy on intelligence matters in the five northern provinces. While serving in this role, LCDR May was present for the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive of April 1972 and subsequently was assigned as the naval liaison officer to the First Regional Advisory Command (Army) in Hue. LCDR May left Vietnam in February, 1973, as the UN peace monitors began arrive from Hungary and Canada following the Paris Peace Accords cease fire. At that time 22,000 American servicemen remained in South Vietnam.
May earned the Navy Commendation Medal with “V” and Gold Star, the Vietnamese Navy Honor Medal, First Class, the RVN Meritorious Unit Citation, Civil Actions Medal First Class Color with Palm, the Navy Unit Commendation ribbon, the Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon, the RVN Staff Service Medal First Class, the Vietnam Service Medal with one Silver Star and one Bronze Star, the RVN Campaign Medal with device, the Sea Service Deployment ribbon, and the Joint Meritorious Unit Award.
After his Vietnam service, LCDR May served on the USS Preble in the Indian Ocean during the Yom Kippur War. He later served as the director of the NATO Intelligence Centre in Northwood, England, from 1982 to 1985. May then worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington, D.C. in 1985 as a Soviet Navy analyst until he retired in 1989 with the rank of commander. After his naval service, May continued to work for the DIA for another 25 years. In November 2011, he joined the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he served until May of 2012. He retired from DIA in January of 2014 after 51 years of service with the Department of Defense.