HAVERHILL — It seems everyone in Haverhill knows the Gleason boys, the lawyers who share an office in the middle of downtown.
There's Scott, the high-powered defense lawyer who has grabbed lots of headlines over the years, and his brothers Thomas and Sean. The three of them grew up together in the city's Bradford section and decided to stay home, making their shared careers in Haverhill.
But another of the Gleason boys hit the road long ago to find his fame and fortune, and now Michael "Mick" Gleason is touching the top of his profession 2,500 miles away.
He has been named commanding officer of the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, Calif. He had served at that base as executive officer, or second in command, for two years before being named the top guy.
His family, and brothers in particular, could not be more proud.
"I'm not surprised at his promotion," Thomas Gleason said. "Mick is extremely intelligent and is very committed to the military and his job, and he really believes in the mission of the military.
"He's always possessed the kinds of qualities that you would expect a person holding this position to have, qualities such as loyalty, diligence, integrity and courage," he said. "And he also has a great sense of humor."
Thomas and Scott Gleason attended a ceremony last month in California where their brother was appointed to his post. On a rotary on the base sits a plane that Michael Gleason has flown as a Navy pilot. It displays his name and is a monument of sorts to his arm of the military.
Michael Gleason, 50, is second oldest in the family to brother Scott, 53, who is known as a feisty lawyer. "Mick" is every bit the competitor, said younger brother Thomas, 48. Michael showed that competitiveness and loyalty to his family at a young age as the boys were growing up in the Bradford section of Haverhill with their sisters, Mary Gleason, 46, and Patricia Ahern, 44, and brother Sean, 41.
"There was a time when some kid in the neighborhood was picking on me, and I told him (Michael) about it," Thomas Gleason said. "As soon as he heard it he said, 'Come with me.'
We walked to the kid's house, and he called the kid out. Let's say there was a bit of a scuffle. He was sticking up for me.
"That's the kind of person he is," he said. "He has extreme integrity and is a fierce competitor."
A graduate of Sacred Hearts School in Haverhill, Central Catholic High School in Lawrence and the University of Notre Dame, where he studied business, Michael Gleason was commissioned a naval officer in 1981.
He earned his flying wings in 1982 when he was designated a naval aviator and went on to earn a master's degree in astronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. In 1991, he piloted an A-6E Intruder bomber along with a squadron of Navy pilots who lead the initial strikes in support of Desert Storm. His 51 combat missions earned him the squadron's Junior Officer Leadership Award.
But to talk to Michael, you'd never know of those achievements, Thomas Gleason said.
"He really possesses true humility," he said, "in spite of his accomplishments."