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Honoring Aspen-area graduates serving their country in active duty

Soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 4, 2021. Colter Guion, a graduate of Aspen High School, is on the far right. He was promoted to sergeant for his service in Afghanistan.
Courtesy photo
Marking Veterans Day

The Aspen/Pitkin Veterans Day ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at Pitkin County Veterans Memorial Park, located between the county administration building and courthouse on Main Street.

Veterans Day has always been significant to Bob and Laura Guion because of family histories of military service, but today will be special.

Their son Colter, an Aspen High School graduate in 2014, has spent about 3½ years in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, including nearly a year in Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait. He was stationed at the airport in Kabul during the hectic evacuation after the Taliban overran the country in August 2021.

“What any military parent has to realize is (their child’s situation) can go from calm and boring to hell in a hand basket in a day,” Bob Guion said.



It was harrowing time for the parents when all hell broke loose. They were uncertain of their son’s fate for about three or four days after the Taliban seized Kabul.

Colter was deployed to the Middle East in November 2020, first to Afghanistan, then to Qatar, where he was assigned to an escort group for top military brass during peace talks with the Taliban leaders. He was transferred back to Afghanistan in February, where he was assigned to Camp Dwyer, a hotspot during the 20-year war in the Helmand Province. He served there until June.




“Dwyer was one of the last bases to close,” Bob said.

As most of his unit departed, Colter volunteered to stay for duty at the airport.

“Their job was a quick reaction force to take care of any problems at the airport,” Bob said.

In the chaos of people rushing the airport to try to flee, Colter’s unit was trying to keep the runway clear so evacuation flights could depart and flights with reinforcements could land. His work was over and he was removed from the country shortly before the Aug. 26 bombing at the airport that killed 13 American soldiers.

After laying over in Kuwait for two weeks, Guion returned to Fort Drum, New York. During his service in Afghanistan he was promoted to sergeant from corporal. The parents reunited with their son for three weeks while he was on leave after returning stateside.

Bob Guion said he was proud of his son’s service and relieved that he was unharmed. “Both apply,” he said.

The Guions will pay their respects today to the U.S. military veterans as well as the young men and women who have joined the military and will be potentially putting their lives at risk in the future. Bob Guion noted there are several graduates from the Upper Roaring Fork Valley who have attended military academies and are pursuing careers in the armed forces.

“In a lot of ways, those young people are risking their lives,” he said, noting that the danger starts in basic training. “There’s just inherent danger in what they do.”

While Veterans Day officially commemorates veterans of all wars, in practice it is also used to honor those in active duty. The Aspen Times is honoring the men and women currently serving in the military or attending a military academy. Among them include:

Capt. Nick Belinski is a fighter pilot stationed in South Korea. Belinski graduated from Aspen High School in 2012 and from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2016.
Courtesy photo

Capt. Nick Belinski

Son of Tim and Charla Belinski

Aspen High School graduate, 2012

U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, 2016

F-16 Fighter pilot

Currently serving with the 35th Fighter Squadron at Kunsan Air Force Base, South Korea

 

Lt. Foster Gross

Son of Eric Gross and Laurel Lamont

Glenwood Springs High School graduate, 2013

U.S. Naval Academy graduate, 2017, with a major in Chinese

Currently serving in intelligence in San Diego, California

 

Megan Hanson

Daughter of Peter and Caroline Hanson

Aspen High School graduate, 2015

U.S. Naval Academy graduate, top of her class, 2019

U.S. Navy Officer and flight student

Stationed in Pensacola, Florida

 

Katarina ‘Kat’ Kowar, center, at her graduation from the U.S. Air Force Academy with her parents Joe and Bonnie Kowar.
Courtesy photo

2nd Lt. Katarina “Kat” Kowar

Daughter of Bonnie and Joe Kowar

Aspen High School graduate, 2017

U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, 2021, with a major in biology

Combat Systems Officer and flight student

Stationed in Pensacola, Florida

 

2nd Lt. Karoline “Kara” Shechter

Daughter of Barb Wilson and Stan Shechter

Aspen High School graduate, 2016

Colorado State University graduate, 2021, with a major in health exercise science and minor in military science

She served for four years while in college, reaching the rank of E5, before being commissioned with the U.S. Army in August

Combat engineer with 321 Route Clearance stationed in San Antonio, Texas

 

2nd Lt. Taggart Solomon

Son of Lee Solomon and Tracy Duhe

Aspen High School graduate, 2015

Attended one year at The Citadel and then transferred to the U.S. Military Academy West Point where he graduated in 2020 with physics major

Stationed at Ford Meade, Florida

 

Graeme Ladd Taylor

Son of Kitty Boone and Zach Taylor

Aspen High School graduate, 2016

Petty officer second class U.S. Navy

Currently serving at Norfolk, Virginia

 

Tai Kim of Basalt is attending the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Courtesy photo

Tai Kim

Son of Alex and Laura Kim

Basalt High School graduate, 2019

Junior at the U.S. Air Force Academy

Majoring in geospatial engineering with a minor in Arabic.

Working to earn a pilot’s slot

 

Isaac Wilder Musselman

Son of Eric and Rebecca Musselman

Basalt High School graduate, 2021

Freshman at U.S. Air Force Academy

 

(Editor’s note: This story was updated Thursday to add an additional veteran.)

scondon@aspentimes.com


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