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Keeping the peace

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Photos submitted Colonel Matt Clark, left, Aviation Task Force Commander at Ali Al Salem Air Force Base in Kuwait during Operation Desert Spring, discusses details with his British counterpart (center). Also present are Clark's surgeon general (right) an

Throughout the history of the United States its citizens have served in the military in times of war, times of peace, to keep the peace. In recognition of Veterans Day, we talked with three veterans about their military service in keeping the peace, and we thank them and all the other veterans for their service to our country.

David Seaver

David graduated from West High School in Denver in June 1951. The conflict in Korea was on the minds of young men in the U.S.

He enrolled in Colorado A&M College (now Colorado State University) to prepare for a career in agriculture. The college required male students to take ROTC during their freshman and sophomore years.

Believing ROTC to be the best way to prepare for his service commitment to his country, David joined Advanced Air Force ROTC during his junior and senior years. He received additional training at Air Force ROTC summer camp.

He graduated Colorado A&M in June 1955 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He was assigned to logistics school at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and received a degree in Logistics Management. He spent 12 years in Military Airlift Command, carrying out supply, maintenance and transportation.

His career occurred during peacetime. From 1962 through 1966 he was stationed in France with the 322nd Air Division, assuring that people, cargo and planes were where they were needed, ready to fly. People, cargo and planes were airlifted to Spain, France, the Rhine, Prestwick in Scotland, Heathrow in England, Syria, Greece, Turkey, Iran and other locations.

David later carried out these same functions in regard to medical needs from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. He had assignments to the Azores, Portugal and the Philippines also.

He retired from the Air Force in November 1975 at Kinchloe Air Force SAC Base, Michigan, with the rank of major.

"Military service is a privileged position in our civilian-oriented country, where the elected president is commander-in-chief," said Seaver. "It's a way to connect with the tradition and purpose of our republic and participate in the ongoing experiment of America, from the Revolution through the Civil War to our current time."

Butch Hrdlicka

Butch was drafted by the U.S. Army for combat in Vietnam and spent two years in the Army. He received his basic training in Fort Lewis, Washington, and non-commissioned officer training at NCO Academy at Fort Benning, Georgia.

"They opened up barracks for us that had been closed after World War II, and we cleaned up the barracks and painted them," he recalled.

He left for Vietnam on Nov. 18, 1969, in the position of Recon (reconnaissance) Platoon Sergeant. He and his platoon fought against the North Vietnamese Army, which was well-trained, Butch says, and the Vietcong, who were guerrilla members of the Vietnamese communist movement, and not well-trained.

On the platoon's first trip out into the field, they split up into separate groups of five to seven men, searching behind bushes and whatever else the terrain presented, trying to ambush the enemy before being ambushed themselves.

Their first time out in the field lasted three months before the platoon had a three-day stand down, giving the men time for showers, clean clothes and a little rest. The remaining forays out into the field lasted one or two months before the three-day stand downs.

Butch said, "Everybody has an obligation to serve their country. It would be a lot better if the politicians would stay out of it and let the military take care of it."

He added, "I want to say the Veterans Health Administration has been a big help to me. The VA Hospital in Grand Junction has been great to me."

Colonel Matt Clark

Matt Clark graduated high school in 1976. After serving a two-year mission to Switzerland and Germany for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he came home, went to college, married and started his family.

Matt was feeling a strong need to fulfill his sense of service to his country by joining the military. During his church mission in Germany, near a military base, he watched helicopters flying and found that exciting.

His mother was married to Col. Al H. Asay of the Air National Guard, who suggested to Matt to consider the Army National Guard. Matt enlisted in the Utah Army National Guard on Jan. 21, 1982.

He was assigned to Attack Helicopter Troop, 163rd Armored Calvary Regiment, and sent to Fort Rucker, Alabama, for helicopter repair school.

His journey had begun.

Wanting to become a helicopter pilot, Matt took a flight aptitude test in 1983 and did well. He had to be an officer to fly, which led him to Federal Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he graduated as a Distinguished Honor Graduate. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. Armor Officer.

Halfway through Armor School he received orders to attend Initial Entry Rotary Wing Flight School and graduated in 1987. Matt went back to his Army National Guard unit to fly attack helicopters.

He progressed in rank and was hired full time in 1989 as an active duty U.S. Army Officer Aviator and sent for training exercises in Germany and South Korea. He was assigned to the Apache Training Brigade at Fort Hood, Texas, and developed and published the Home Station Unit Training Plan, which became the standard for all National Guard AH-64 Battalions.

Col. Clark served as Aviation Task Force Commander at Ali Al Salem Air Force Base in Kuwait, working cooperatively with British Tornado pilots in Operation Desert Spring in Kuwait. During the operation attack helicopters maintained constant flights over Kuwait to prevent encroachment by Iraq into Kuwait.

After 9/11 they continued flying escort for convoys.

Col. Clark accepted the position of Recruiting and Retention Manager during a challenging period for military recruitment, instilling a vision for success and empowerment to recruiters throughout the country.

He retired at Fort Carson, Colorado, on Nov. 30, 2008.

On Nov. 15, 2008, he was hired by the Delta County School District as the JROTC Senior Army Instructor for Delta High School. The U.S. Army pays one-half of Col. Clark's salary to the school district.

"I reported to Delta High School in mid-November 2008," said Col. Clark. "I didn't have to have new uniforms. I've been wearing the same uniform since Jan. 21, 1982. I must abide by all Army regulations, including length of hair, smooth face, etc."

This year there are 81 JROTC cadets at Delta High School, male and female, all grades.

"I teach every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.," explained Col. Clark. "I teach five courses. Sgt. Lopez (also a JROTC Army Instructor) teaches six classes. We have an extra period to keep up with Army operations under Army regulations.

"We take two or three field trips a year with the cadets."

He added, "We teach leadership and responsibility, Army curriculum and books. It's the same for every U.S. Army JROTC. We teach first aid, personal finances, history, the U.S. Constitution, our Founding Fathers, and types of military.

"We strive to motivate young people to be better citizens and leaders; to take responsibility. We are heavy on decision making."

He noted, "The school district gets two seasoned, very experienced teachers."

After reflecting on all the years of his military career, and his continuing career of teaching, Col. Clark said, "It is an honor and privilege to serve the nation I cherish, and I think every young person should have that opportunity. It builds integrity, patriotism, loyalty and appreciation for the liberties we enjoy as Americans."

David Seaver of Cedaredge, after his retirement from the U.S. Air Force, worked as a seasonal ranger at Colorado’s Sweitzer, Crawford and Paonia State Parks for 15 years.
Butch Hrdlicka of Delta, preparing for another hunting trip, served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam.
Col. Matt Clark is pictured with his daughter, Kayce Clark Lowry, (left) and niece, Hailey Morley, (right). They all served in the same company at the same time in the Army National Guard.
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