Mike LeClaire is a former Gunnery Sergeant in the US Marine Corps with decorated combat service in Vietnam. In 1971 he was fresh out of hospital after contracting malaria while serving as a forward observer for the artillery, and got himself a job as a janitor with a local TV station known then as KLZ. Today, he is the Assistant Chief Photographer at Channel 7 in Denver. In forty-three years, Mike has – as he says – ‘worked at many different television stations but they’ve all been in this building.’ Through tenacity, hard work, overwhelming odds and a commitment to service, Mike has made a profound and lasting impression in journalism.
He has done so much: floor director, studio camera, producer/director, programs, newscasts, PSAs, telethons, community affairs. Then, after almost 20 years, he was laid-off with a number of other employees – only to return three months later as a news editor. On his own time he learned the ins and outs of videography, arranging a trip back to Vietnam (on his own time and his own dime) to create an Emmy award-winning documentary that also got him a spot as a staff photographer. He’s travelled a lot since then, and always with a camera: following surgeons from Children’s Hospital to the Ukraine; taking WWII vets back to Iwo Jima 50 years after the battle; a humanitarian mission to Afghanistan for a food drop from 35,000 feet; accompanying other WWII vets to Okinawa. This, plus the major news stories of the last twenty years. He believes in the power of the images he creates, adapting to new realities and striving to become a proficient conduit for the stories that put life in perspective. Along the way, he’s been recognized by the NPPA, the CBA and NATAS with numerous industry awards.
It’s when Mike puts down the camera that his determination and true character emerge. For many years he and his wife, Andrea, have been actively involved at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church where he teaches children’s classes and gives his time. He spent 14 years in the Marine Corps Reserve. He volunteers with his son’s Boy Scout Troop. He has donated his professional and personal time to the Heroes Forever organization, which provides support to pediatric cancer patients and their families. He is the proud father of twins, Ben and Amy, and a devoted husband. He is authentic, compassionate, dedicated and the embodiment of integrity and commitment.