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Honoring Our Veterans Duty H Respect H Pride H Freedom

november 11, 2011 Our freedom has been secured thanks to the service, sacrifice and courage of our veterans


History of Veterans Day World War I — known at the time as “The Great War” — officially ended when the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, outside the town of Versailles, France. However, fighting ceased seven months earlier when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The original concept for the celebration was for a day observed with parades and public meetings and a brief suspension of business beginning at 11 a.m. An Act approved May 13, 1938, made November 11th a legal holiday — a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as “Armistice Day.” Armistice Day was primarily a day set aside to honor veterans of World War I, but eventually the word “Armistice” was replaced with the word “Veterans” to honor all veterans. The Uniform Holiday Bill was signed on June 28, 1968, and was intended to ensure three-day weekends for Federal employees by celebrating four national holidays on Mondays. In 1978, the annual observance of Veterans Day returned to its original date of November 11. Source: HHHHH More Veterans Day Coverage: In Today and Saturday’s Cortez Journal — stories about the Cortez Honor Guard, a veteran who learned a trade in the military, a soldier who survived a vicious ambush in Vietnam and a man who earned his diploma 51 years after his Navy service.

World war ii veterans “United in this determination and with unshakable faith in the cause for which we fight, we will, with God’s help, go forward to our greatest victory.” — General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1944)

David K. Allen Age: 87

Military Service: U.S. Army Air Corps from 1942 to 1945 From Dove Creek Memories: “I was the nose gunner and togglier (noncommissioned Bombardier) on a B-24 bomber. We

destroyed Germany’s infrastructure by flying deep into enemy territory and bombing railroad marshalling yards, airports, oil refineries, ammunition dumps, military installations, and factories.” David is a charter member and has a lifetime membership in the Troy Young VFW Post 5181 in Dove Creek. HHHHH


Cortez Journal Honoring Our Veterans Publisher ............................................. Suzy Meyer Advertising Director . ........................... Mark Drudge Section Editor ...................................... Dale Shrull Layout and Production ........................ Linda McDarby Cover Design . ...................................... Linda McDarby Reporter .............................................. Dale Shrull Photography . ...................................... Sam Green, Dale Shrull

Jack Masters

Age: 88 Has lived in Cortez for more than a year Military Service: U.S. Air Force, served from 1942 to 1945 in Far East and South Pacific.

Memories: Jack was part of 37 bombing raids over Japan during the war, including one raid where 90 B-24 bombers were dispatched. He also remembers bombing Iwo Jima. “We had quite a few raids there. It was like a big pyramid that comes out of the sea,” he said about the island. Jack said that some of the missions were quite harrowing. “One time we got hit and had to come home on three engines.” He said they were given a simple directive if they were ever shot down by the Japanese. “We were told, do not be taken prisoner, you take out as many Japanese as possible with your .45 but leave the last shot for yourself.”


World war ii veterans

Memorable times in WWII for Knoll Robert “Bob” Knoll, 86, served in the South Pacific during World War II. He was involved in some of the most deadly battles of the war. Fighting the Japanese, Bob says the worst and most horrific times occurred during his time on the famous island of Iwo Jima. Some of the fiercest battles of the entire war raged on this volcanic island. “Iwo Jima was the worst,” Bob says from his home south of Cortez. “I lost a lot of friends there.” Bob’s courage and valor were recognized on a number of occasions. His living-room wall has some of the accommodations he received for his service. As a member of the 4th Marine Division from 1943 to 1945, Bob was awarded at least three Bronze Bob Knoll Stars for heroism. He admits that he doesn’t remember how many times he was recognized for heroism and shrapnel in his body. says about getting wounded. Then he the medals have long been put away. “I won’t show you where,” he says recalls one especially terrifying time. Bob was wounded several times with a chuckle. A Japanese soldier lobbed a hand and still has about a dozen chunks of “Mostly from hand grenades,” he

Veteran’s Day

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grenade into the middle of some U.S. troops, so Bob snatched it and tried to throw it back. “I grabbed the grenade but I couldn’t get rid of it quick enough.” It exploded in his hand but he says it didn’t hurt his hand too much. Instead his eye and shoulder were injured. Bob also fought on the island of Saipan, south of Iwo Jima. It was there that Bob remembers one fierce, deadly battle when he killed six Japanese soldiers. “I was in this cave and it was just me and six (Japanese). I shot and killed all of them. But then I heard someone move and one of them was pulling his rifle up to take a shot at me.” Bob said he quickly shot the man again. “I was pretty good with my gun,” he says smiling. Bob was born in Delta and raised in Silverton, where he did some mining. After the war, he taught math at area high schools.

- November 11, 2011

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World war ii veterans

Joseph Kotnyndk Age: 86

Hometown: born in Marion, Mich. Has lived in Cortez since 1991

Roscoe Hawks

Age: 91 Has lived in Cortez for more than 5 years

Military Service: U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1946 Joseph served on a Navy ship during Okinawa campaign as an Electrician’s mate; he also worked on the forward port-side 20MM gun during combat. Memories: “We were there when (a U.S. destroyer) sunk and we took on survivors.” He also recalls a deadly typhoon with winds of more than 140 mph that hit the South Pacific in the winter of 1944. Several ships were sunk but he said his ship, a Landing Craft Support Large (LCSL), which were also known as the Mighty Midgets, stayed afloat and helped rescue survivors. Some of his most memorable experiences came near the end of the war. “We were in the Sea of Japan when the first bomb dropped (Hiroshima).” The second bomb was dropped three days later on Nagasaki. A few days later, Japan surrendered. “When word of the surrender came down, you should have seen all the flares and guns being shot off. That was quite a moment.” Honor Flight: In May of this year, Joseph traveled to Washington D.C. as part of the Honor Flight program. “We saw all the memorials but the World War II Memorial was the most impressive for me. The Western Slope Honor Flight group was the best organized group. They treated all of us old vets with lots of respect.”

Military Service: U.S. Navy Construction Battalions — 60th Seabees; rank: Carpenter Mate 3rd Class Served from 1942 to 1946 in South Pacific from Australia to Okinawa Memories: “I am very proud of the accomplishments the 60th Seabees contributed to the war effort. The most newsworthy was the airbase we built on Woodlark Island (New Guinea). Thirteen and a half days after landing, the first squadron of fighter planes landed. A record that was never broken. Fifteen inches of rain fell during the first week. When it wasn’t raining we had to endure Japanese bombing raids. We also built entire bases including roads, jetties, tank farms, camps, hospitals, PT boat facilities etc. As the war moved northward, we moved with it. And did it all over again. What’s a Seabee?: The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction projects in a wide variety of military theaters dating back to World War II. Their motto was “We build, we fight!”

David Totman Age: 86

Hometown: Syracuse, N.Y.; has lived in Cortez since 1956 Military Service: U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946 Fought in Italy in the Po Valley campaign Memories: “I was well armed and capable but I never shot at anyone,” David says. “I’m very proud that I served and I’m very fortunate I wasn’t injured or killed.” He returned to Italy with his wife Mary a few years ago. “I wasn’t a tourist when I was there before,” he says with a grin. After the service, David graduated from Syracuse University then came to Cortez where he taught science at Montezuma-Cortez High School for 30 years.


George Fender

school in Cortez for three years. Also worked at KVFC Radio. George now lives in Loveland wife his wife of 66 Military Service: United States Air years Dorothy. Force from 1942 to 1945 During WWII, George flew 49 missions in the South Pacific and earned He lived in Cortez from 1949 to seven Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart 1962. Taught junior high and high medal. Age: 88

Memories: On one mission, his plane was shot down and he and the crew had to bail out. George said he enjoyed his time in Cortez. “I loved Cortez, I really hated to leave.”

Ready for Duty Four young men from Cortez posed for a photograph prior to heading to Denver to join the U.S. Navy in December 1951. Pictured from left are: Jess Lancaster, Dale Walters, Archer Swank and Darrell McComb. Three of the men, Lancaster, Walters and Swank, all ended up on the same ship, the USS Lyman K. Swenson. The three spent their entire service together. They first were put on a train to San Diego for their Naval training, then it was off to war in the South Pacific.


This photo appeared in the Dolores Star newspaper in 1923. The caption read: Boys Enlist: Three Dolores boys signed applications for enlistment in the air corps of the U.S. Army at Durango this week. They are: Victor Sundquist, Gordon Smith and RIchard Tibbits. Congratulations, boys. Here’s hoping for you, lots of luck.

We salute our father and uncle for their service!

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in memory Richard Jessup

Herbert Fuller McCutcheon

Richard graduated from MontezumaCortez High School in 1990. He left shortly after graduation for the Marine Corps. Richard served in Desert Storm arriving on Christmas day 1990. He completed his service with the Marines in 1994. HHHHH

Leonard A Hammock

U.S. Navy 1943 to 1946 Tribute from Lea, Darin, Liv and Brooklyn James HHHHH

entered the Marine Corps in Sept. 1989. In 1990, he served in Desert Storm where he was a helicopter mechanic. He later served in Somalia. Rod became a crew chief and while on a training flight was killed when the helicopter he was traveling in crashed on Feb. 14, 2002. He left behind a wife, five children, his parRoderick ents, two brothers and a Nesmith sister. Roderick graduated Rod was named after from Montezuma-Cortez his dad’s best friend who High School in 1989 and was killed in Vietnam.

World War I veteran: Herbert was born in Tennessee on July 21, 1896 and entered the Army in the fall of 1918. He served in France with the 57th Infantry. His military service ended in 1919 Herbert moved to Cortez in 1935 and operated the Cannon Ball Bus for several years. Herbert’s family includes his son G.W. McCutheon of Cortez, granddaughters Debie Schmitt and Gail Barker of Cortez, and deceased grandsons Mike McCutcheon, who died in 2000, and Tim McCutcheon, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and died in 1983. HHHHH


Russel Aulston

Carl Anton Maria Eugene Rollmann

1835-1897, Civil War veteran Born in Germany and five years after arriving in the U.S. he became a U.S. citizen; then in 1861, he enlisted in the 11th Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Calvary. He participated in the engagement of Shiloh, Corinth and Sherman’s expedition to Mississippi and many others. He served nearly four years and re-enlisted with

the rank of Sgt. Major. In 1864 he was commissioned Quartermaster and First Lieutenant. His service ended in 1865. Eugene wrote a chronicle of his regiment throughout the war, which was donated to the Illinois State Historical Library. Several of his hand-drawn maps of the Vicksburg, Miss. still exist. Eugene is the great grandfather of Joan Rollmann Tozer. She is married to Chester Tozer and they live in McElmo Canyon.

Military Service: U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, fought in World War II. Russel fought in the Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded and taken prisoner. He was set free when General Patton’s 44th Division busted through the steel gates of the prison with its tanks. Sixty-six years after he was wounded, he received medals for his valor. In July of this year, Russel received the Bronze Star, the Purple

Heart and the Prisoner of War medal. Russel passed away on Oct. 15 at the age of 93.

Russel Aulston from World War II.


family tradition The Condons Andrew Condon Sr.

Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps from 1979 to 1983 Served in Okinawa, Japan He is from Dolores

Gideon Condon

Military Service: U.S. Navy, 2008 to present Serving aboard the USS Houston submarine in the South Pacific. He is a 2006 graduate of Dolores High School

Simon Peter Condon

Military Service: U.S. Navy, 2011 to present Currently in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps in Los Angeles He is a 2011 graduate of Dolores High School

Andrew Condon Sr.

We’re Proud & Thankful for the Sacrifice & service of all our Veterans! 10% Discount for all Veterans

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Honoring all who served... Then & Now

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Bobby and Eva Jones

cia served in Vietnam while he was in the Army; Billy Garcia and Larry Garcia were both in the Air Force and Alex Garcia served in Vietnam. Age: 80 Larry and Alex are the only living Military Service: U.S. Navy, 1950 to brothers. Larry lives in Alaska. 1953 Alex went to Fort Lewis College on a baseball scholarship as a catcher Hometown: Durango native, has and had a tryout with the New York lived in Cortez since 1977 Giants.

The Garcia Family

Alex is one of five brothers who were in the military. Their father, Simon Ben Garcia served in World War I. Ben Garcia, the oldest, served in the Air Force in World War II and Korea; Alex Garcia was in the Navy and served in Korea; Johnny Gar-

Memories: While in the service, Ben was on a supply ship that picked up supplies at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and dropped them off at all the islands along the way to Japan. He also did some deep sea diving where he broke his left ear drum, and he still can’t hear out of the ear.


Robert & Darla Sanders Robert Sanders Age: 64

Military Service: U.S. Air Force, Chief Master Sergeant Lives in Mancos Served for 30 years; served in Vietnam for three tours. Also served in Guam, Thailand, Okinawa, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Africa, Italy. France, German and a number of Air Force bases during his active and temporary duty.

Darla Sanders Age: 53

Military Service: U.S. Air Force, Chief Master Sergeant Lives in Mancos Served in Korea, England, Guam, Saudi Arabia and a number of Air Force bases during her active and temporary duty.

in November 1943 and spent 18 months in the South Pacific in places like Australia Have lived in Cortez since 1973 and New Guinea. Eva, 92, served with the Army Nurse “I remember once it rained 30 inches in Corps from 1942 to 1946 24 hours when I was in New Guinea,” he She was stationed in England, France said. and Fort Bliss, Texas Bobby served with the 106th Field Bat“There were a few tense moments,” Eva talion. said about her time overseas. Bobby served with the National Guard She was in England during the D-Day in- from 1937 to 1945; then he joined again in vasion and then in early May 1945, she was 1949 and served until he retired in 1967. in France when the German army surren“I enjoyed the National Guard all the way dered. through,” he said. There was quite a celebration, she said. Bobby and Eva first met before the war in Bobby, 93, first joined the National Durango and were married on Feb. 7, 1948. Guard in Durango in 1937. He shipped out Eva retired from nursing in 1984. HHHHH

The Leonards Linley L. Leonard Age: 59

Military Service: U.S. Navy from 1973 to 1994; E9 Master Chief Petty Officer Served in Far East, Vietnam From Cortez Memory: Linley said his time during the evacuatiotn of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War was a memorable time.

Zada Leonard Age: 54

Linley Leonard Noah Leonard

Military Service: U.S. Navy from 1980 to Age: 28 1988; E4 Petty Officer Third Class Military Service: U.S. Navy, 2009 to PresServed in Philippines, Washington D.C. ent From Cortez From Cortez Memory: Zada said her deployment to Memory: Noah said he’s especially the Philippines and serving in San Francisco were some of her most memorable proud of following the Leonard Navy tradition of his mother and father, and his times in the service. grandfather, who served in World War II.


Fred Tibbits

Richard Tibbits

The Tibbits Men Fred Leroy Tibbits

Fred enlisted in the Army and served in World War I. He received a Purple Heart after being wounded in the battle of ChateauThierry.

Richard Joe Tibbits

Richard enlisted in the Army Air Corps on his 18th birthday. He achieved the rank of Technical Sergeant and was stationed in England during World War II where he served as typist to General James Doolittle of the famous Doolittle Raid.

A new memorial is set to be dedicated 11 a.m. at the Cortez Cemetery, located on U.S. Highway 160 on the east end of town. Those wishing to participate in the parade can pick up entry forms at the Cortez Journal, the Cortez Recreation Center or by e-mailing The theme of this year’s parade is “patriotism on parade.” The Veterans Day Parade is set to commence at 1 p.m., starting at the Montezuma County Senior Center, 103 N. Chestnut St., and proceeding east down Montezuma Avenue and north on North Harrison to the American Legion Hall, where a reception, refreshments, veterans recognitions and a performance by the Mesa Howlers singing group are scheduled to follow after the parade. Lastly, a veterans dance is scheduled for 9 p.m. at the Mancos Veterans of Foreign Wars/ Opera House near the intersection of East Grand Avenue and Mesa Street in Mancos. The public is invited, and veterans needing a ride can call 565-8151. For more information, call Linley Leonard at 560-4350.

Elks hosts free Veterans Day lunch

The Cortez Elks Lodge 1789 will host a free luncheon for all active military, veterans, and their spouses from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 11, at the Cortez Elk’s Lodge, 2100 N. Do-

On Friday, Nov. 11 from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cortez Denny’s, diners with a valid military ID card will receive a free Grand Slam, beverage not included. Featuring two eggs, two bacon strips, two sausage links and two fluffy buttermilk pancakes, Denny’s world-famous Grand Slam is a hearty and delicious meal fit for America’s finest.

Financial assistance

The Disabled American Veterans, in conjunction with the VA Clinic, has been able to secure a small grant for the purpose of providing financial assistance for all veterans, both disabled and nonrated. The grant money may be used to pay for travel expenses to and from VA medical facilities, for medications, or even to offset the cost of food, rent, or utilities. If you are a veteran and need any form of financial assistance, contact the DAV and we will do our best to assist you. Direct your calls to Dale R. Wilson, treasurer for DAV Dunger Smith Chapter 44, at 8824531.


Gary enlisted in the Air Force after graduation from high school in 1965. He was an aircraft maintenance specialist and served in Vietnam.


We cherish our freedom... Thank You Veterans


Would like to



Thank all our Verterans & Active


Free meal at Denny’s


Gary Leroy Tibbits

Gary Tibbits

lores Road. We at the lodge would like to thank all military and veterans for their service to our country. For questions, contact Dennis at 882-2614.

404 West Main St. Cortez, CO (970) 565-6266


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Three Generations of Military Service Leroy Underwood (Father)

Military Service: U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945 in World War II. Third Army Medical Unit 182. Served in European theatre, including England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Germany and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

Gary Underwood (Son)

Chester Tozer Chester Tozer poem

Written while he was serving in Korea “Korea”

Pearley Tozer

Eugene W. Tozer

Out across the Pacific, Korea was the spot. Where we were doomed to spend our time in the land that God forgot. We were the United States Marines. Earning our measly pay, guarding people with millions for a couple of bucks a day. No one knew we were living. No one gave a damn. At home we were forgotten. We belong to Uncle Sam. We swore, we fought and froze. It was more than a man could stand. We weren’t supposed to be convicts, just defenders of our land. Living with our memories, thinking of our gals. Hoping while we were gone, they wouldn’t marry our pals. If we should manage to get to heaven. To Saint Peter we will say, We will guard the streets of heaven and protect the personnel. You can’t send us down below Sir, we’ve already spent our time in Hell.

The Tozer Brothers Pearley Tozer

The oldest Tozer brother, Pearley, served in World War II and was a mine sweeper in North Africa, then went to Italy with the 10th Mountain Division with the U.S. Army. He was wounded at least three times.

Eugene W. Tozer

Eugene, the middle brother, served in the U.S. Navy. He was stationed in Hawaii on an aircraft carrier. He was discharged in 1945.

Chester Tozer

Chester served in Korea from 1952 to 1954 with the 1st Tank Battalion, 1st Marine Division. The Tozer brothers were all born and raised in McElmo Canyon. Chester is the only surviving brother.

Military Service: U.S. Navy from 1968 to 1972. Petty Officer, 3rd Class. Naval submarine training Assigned to on-shore active duty during the Vietnam War and duty aboard the USS Coral Sea. Gary graduated from MontezumaCortez High School in 1966 and following his military service received a bachelor’s degree from Fort Lewis College.

Leroy Underwood

Gary Underwood Dwayne Bond (Grandson)

Military Service: U.S. Navy from 1988 to 1992. Active duty at Norfolk, Virginia on USS Trenton (LPD-14). Boatswain’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd class, and 3” 50 caliber Gun Mount Operator (LSO).  Service included Operation Eastern Exit (Mogadishu, Somalia). Served on the USS Guam, the USS Trenton, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Air Force AC-130s and Navy SEALs successfully evacuated 281 diplomats off the coast of Somalia, Africa.   Operation Desert Shield (1990), Operation Desert Storm (1991) Persian Gulf off the coast of Kuwait. Three 6-month Mediterranean Sea operations.

Dwayne Bond Dwayne graduated from Montezuma-Cortez High School in 1988 and following his military service received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Colorado.


Lest We Forget...

Dale Wilson, right, poses for a photo with his daughter Leeah and her husband Brodie Hoyer. Dale is holding a frame of medals that Brodie received from three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brodie is still serving in the U.S. Army.

The Wilsons Dale R. Wilson

Leeah R. (Wilson) Hoyer

Age: 30 Age: 64 Military Service: U.S. Army from Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps 1999 to 2006 from 1965 top 1969 Served at West Point, N.Y., German, Served in Vietnam Iraq and Kuwait Hometown: Stillwater, Minn; has Hometown: Dickinson, N.D.; has lived in Dolores since 1999 lived on and off in Dolores since 2006 Her father is Dale Wilson Memory: “Scuba school in Hawaii was one of the most fun and interestMemory: “My time spent in Kuwait.” ing things I’ve ever done.”

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currently serving

Clinton J. Criddle

Age: 22 Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps since Oct. 2008 Preparing to return to Afghanistan for his second tour. Moved to Cortez in 1999. Clinton’s father is Ray Criddle of Cortez.

Ricardo Gustamantes

Katie (Drudge) Zornes

Senior Airmen U.S. Air Force Katie is currently serving in Guam Her father is Mark Drudge of Cortez HHHHH


Age: 38 Military Service: U.S. Army, Combat Battalion Engineer, three tours in Iraq; 1990 to present While serving in Iraq, Ricardo has been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart He is from Cortez HHHHH

Harry L. Nolan

2007 Montezuma-Cortez High School graduate Military Service: U.S. Army from 2007 to present Harry spent two years in Germany and is now stationed at Fort Drum, New York. He recently returned from serving a year in Afghanistan in Kandahar. He returned home safely to his family in September 2011. He has served 4 years of a 5 year enlistment. “I am thankful that I have received the opportunity to serve my country and help keep it free,” Harry said. Harry’s family, all of Cortez, includes his mother Deborah Kennell, brother Kyle Kennell, wife Ashley Colcord, grandparents Sherman and Diane Kennell, and his step-father is Michael Kennell.

PFC Cassandra Jordan of Cortez and PFC Joseph “J” Kane of Atlanta

The U.S. Army veterans are currently serving in Afghanistan. The pair have been in the service for a year and a half. Their home base is Fort Wainwright, Alaska. HHHHH

Nathan Zornes

The Skinners

Sgt. Michael R. Rivas

Age: 28 Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps, 2004 to present. Michael’s family includes his mother Dolores Rivas Armenta (deceased), sister Bianca Rivas of Cortez, daughter Natalya Sturgeon of Santa Cruz, Calf., grandparents Fabiloa Rivas of Cortez and the late Chris Rivas of Cortez; aunts Bernadette Archuleta, Libby Rivas and Lily Rivas of Cortez; uncles Robert Rivas of Aztec, N.M. and Glen Rivas of Cortez. Memory: He said his special memory of his service was his last patrol in Afghanistan.

Bergen L. Skinner (Baker)

Age: 32 Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps, 1997 to present Served in Iraq, 2002 to 2006, 2008 to 2009 Rank: Gunnery Sergeant

Michael C. Skinner

Age: 29 Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps, 2001 to present Served in Iraq in 2006 Rank: Staff Sergeant Bergen and Michael have been married for three years and currently live in Washington, D.C.

Staff Sergeant U.S. Air Force Currently serving in Guam

Saluting all our military and their sacrifices on Veterans Day and always!


Joe T. Ghere

Paul (Latty) Burcher

Age: 79 Military Service: U.S. Army, 1951 to 1955; served in Korea and Germany. Hometown: Quaker City, Ohio; has lived in Cortez since 1954 Memories: “I was really

surprised at the way the people looked when I got to Korea. I learned that they had been starved for years under Japanese rule. Paul said he installed communication cable near the front lines and was shot at a few times. “They weren’t very good shots,” he said with a chuckle.

tion and several U.S. soldiers were killed. One thing he remembers was how a Marine volunteered for duty. “(An officer said) you guys just volunteered to man the howitzer battalion. That’s how you volunteered.” Joe says he still has back trouble and his hearing was Ben King forever effective from working Age: 73 around and handling heavy Has lived in Cortez since 2004 artillery shells of up to 204 Military service: U.S. Navy, hospital corpspounds. The Marines would unload them by hand, pack- man, from 1956 to 1960 Pictured with his wife Jeanette. The older Memories: Joe says he re- ing the shells off trucks on their photo was taken on their wedding day on members a battle when the shoulders. Aug. 18, 1958 in Honolulu, Hawaii. VietCong overran their posiAge: 65 Military Service: U.S. Marine Corps. from 1965-1969; National Guard 1975-1986; Army 1986-1996 Served in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967 Lived in Durango from 1986 to 1996; has lived in Cortez since 1996 Joe entered the Marines in June 1965 at the age of 18 and was in Vietnam in February 1966.

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Jess Lancaster

Age: 78 Hometown: Pleasant View native now lives in Wickenburg, Ariz. Military Service: U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955. Made three trips to Korea There were four men (Lancaster, Dale Walters, Archer Swank and Darrell McComb) from Cortez that joined the Navy at the same time and three ended up on the same ship (all but McComb).

Memories: He was on the USS Lyman K. Swenson and it was used to draw fire from the North Korean troops so they could get their location to return fire. “We saw some tough duty. We would go in close to draw the fire and then the destroyer would spot that location.” He also remembers a frightening time when they would set anchor. “We’d anchor up river and North Koreans would float down on inner tubes to try and get on board our ship, so we had to stand guard with shotguns.”


Senovio Gustamantes

Age: 73 U.S. Army, 1959 to 1962 4th Infantry Division, buck sergeant He is from Cortez

Michael Lavey

Age: 68 Lives in Cortez Hometown: North Tonawanda, N.Y., a small rural community between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. Military Service: U.S. Navy, two years and four years inactive reserve Michael was 19 during the Cuban Missile Crisis and worked as an Electronics Technician, Radar. In mid-October 1962 Michael’s ship, the USS Francis Marion, an amphibious attack transport, left Norfolk, Va. in the company of the various other ships of the Amphibious Squadron 12. Michael’s ship stopped in Morehead City, N.C. to pick up its complement of U.S. Marines from Camp Lejeune. Memories: “We were on a routine training mission to the

Caribbean Sea, we were told. A few days later, President Kennedy announced that there would be a naval blockade of Cuba because Soviet missiles had been installed there. Our ship was part of this blockade.” Michael says he remembers a very tense and stressful time during the blockage. “I remembered that we picked up many Soviet submarine radar signals on our gear. I found out later that some Soviet subs had armed their nuclear missiles, ready to fire. Our Air Force had also armed their nuclear bombs about the same time. One of our U2 surveillance planes was shot down over Cuba. Things got very tense. We were at the brink of a nuclear war! The Soviets backed down, began to disassemble the missiles and ship them back to Russia. We all breathed a big sigh of relief.” HHHHH

Dan McCuistion

Age: 61 Has lived in Cortez since 1983 Military Service: U.S. Army, 1969 to 1971; served in Vietnam Memories: “There was once when this Frenchman left his plantation (in Vietnam) and he had an Olympic-sized swimming pool and he said we could use it.” Dan says he still has some difficult memories of his time in Vietnam and doesn’t like talking about it. When he returned, Vietnam veterans were not embraced. “I felt shunned for a lot of years. But I’m very proud of my military service.”

Chuck Thompson

Age: 62 Has lived in Cortez since 1985 Military Service: U.S. Army, 1969 to 1971; served in Vietnam and was wounded on May 21, 1970. Memories: “When I was in it was a very unpopular war. A lot of us served because we were called to serve. I’ve always been proud of my service, proud of what I’ve done and proud to have served my country. It’s very pleasing that people have accepted us more now.” HHHHH


Authur Wayne Searcy

Age: 69 Cahone native

Military Service: U.S. Army from 1960 to 1962 Served in Korea Special Memory: During basic training, he remembers once that he was busy doing something else and didn’t eat right away. And he missed his chance. “When you go to the mess hall, to eat, you better eat, because you only have so much time.”

Abe Saunders, second from the right, performed with a band on the USS Brush during the Korean War.

Abe Saunders

Age: 72 Military Service: U.S Navy from 1951 to 1955 Served in the Korean War; served on the USS Brush destroyer. Lives in Mancos Memories: He says Korea was one of the coldest places he’s ever been.

He also remembers his ship being attacked. “I was a gunner’s mate. The forward No. 1 gunmount was hit. I was right under it, where the ammunition was kept. None were killed, but one man’s leg was torn off above the knees, another’s face was hit by shrapnel.”

Rusty Zickefoose U.S. Navy, 20 years Chief Petty Officer Served In Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 as a hospital corpsman


Louie Szabo

Age: 60 Has lived in Cortez since 1971

Rebecca Spratte

Age: 45 Military Service: U.S. Air Force from 1984 to 1988 She joined when she was 17 and was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. She is the granddaughter of Frances and Luke Lancaster of Cortez.

Military Service: U.S. Army from 1971 to 1973, then until 1977 with the active reserves. He served overseas in Germany with the 6th Battalion 4th Infantry Division. Louie is especially proud of a Certificate of Appreciation he received following his Army service signed by President Richard Nixon, Commander in Chief.

confidence,” he said about his service. “I was the kid with the thick-rimmed glasses. I was the kid that got sand kicked in my face. Then I Memories: “It made me was the guy who kicked the a better person, it gave me sand.” HHHHH

Don Swank

Age: 64 Cortez area native

Military Service: U.S. Navy, 1965 to 1970; served in Vietnam and was injured in 1970. The attack left him 14 injuries and ended his military career. Don’s twin brother was killed in Vietnam.


Memories: “I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I learned a lot and learned to appreciate what we have here at home.” HHHHH

Wayne Nolan

Robert Carl Tucker

U.S. Marine Corps, 1953 to 1961 Corporal 3rd Battalion 5th Marines 1st Marine Division HHHHH

Age: 62 Military Service: U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1971; served in Vietnam Memories: Wayne said getting letters from home and cookies from his older sister was always a special time, since that was the first time he’d been very far from home. A couple of memories that weren’t too special for Wayne were the huge rice beetles that were bigger than his thumb and would crawl on his chest at night. He was also disappointed by the way many of the Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned from the war. He said they were kept in the dark about what was happening on the homefront when he was in Vietnam. HHHHH

Dale Walters

Dale Walters

Age: 79 Military Service: Joined the National Guard at Durango in 1949; U.S. Navy from 1951 to 1955 Was assigned to the USS Lyman, K. Swenson for three years and eight months Served three six-month tours in Korea. Dale currently lives in Grand Junction.

Sandi and Robert Valencia both served in the Robert Valencia poses for a photo Colorado Army National Guard for more than 20 years. They’ve been married for 19 years. in Korea in 1989.

Colorado Army National Guard Citizen Soldiers of Cortez Robert “Bert” Valencia

Years of Service: 1978 to 2000; Age: 57 Served in Saudi Arabia during Desert Military Service: Colorado Army Storm National Guard Hometown: Mancos; has lived in Years of Service: 1973 to 1997; Cortez since 1992 Served in Desert Storm Memories: Sandi was riding in a Hometown: Ignaci; has lived in Cor- convoy in Saudi Arabia when a vehicle tez since 1992 came up on the shoulder and slowed down. A man was shouting and wavMemories: Robert says one of his ing something in his hand. Sandi says fondest memories was from the Cortez her feared dropped when she saw him Guard’s deactivation ceremony of the smiling. He was waving a small book 928th Medical Company in June 1997. on Islam. “He wanted me to know that his religion is not bad, but just like other Sandi Valencia religions can be manipulated to repreAge: 53 sent whatever a follower wants it to be. Military Service: Colorado Army (He said) He’s proud of being a Muslim National Guard and wanted me to understand that not all of them are corrupt.”

Gary Erickson at Camp Roberts, Calif. in 1981. Members of the Colorado Army National Guard, 928 Medical Company photographed on God and Country Day in 1981 at the Cortez American Legion. Pictured from left to right standing: Don Coppinger, J.B. Lopez, Susan Stuckman, Wally Henderson; seated: Travis Parker, left, and Gordon Tom Endres, Sandi Valencia and Dave CrowMiracle photographed at Fort ley. Bliss, Texas in 1988.

2011 Veterans Guide  
2011 Veterans Guide  

2011 Veterans Guide