by Mary Pat Haddock
This summer and fall, six young men from Ridway and Ouray high schools will enter the military, becoming students, pilots, infantrymen, engineers, public affair specialists and medics. They will push themselves to physical and emotional depths they currently cannot fathom. They will each honor and serve their country to the best of their ability.
For now, they continue to honor and serve their families, schools and community. That these young men have taken on such a role is apparent to all who meet them. They speak with insight and intelligence. They walk with confidence and strength. They act with deliberate intention.
Chris Williams of Ridgway will attend Westminster College, paid for by his Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NRTC) scholarship. Williams will be taking the Marine Corps option, majoring in Westminster’s aviation program and minoring in history. He hopes to be selected to continue on to flight school. Williams thanked his dad, Rick Williams, who served 27 years in the U.S. Army, his recruiter Sgt. Avila and his classmates Billy McCarty and Corbyn Robinson, who regularly joined him for physical training sessions (PT).
Billy McCarty of Ridgway will be enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in the public affairs division, where he will write military articles and produce battle films. McCarty committed to the Marines’ delayed entry program two weeks after joining Williams for a PT session in Montrose last year. McCarty will attend college while completing his active duty commitment. He wished to thank his Uncle Robert, Mr. Williams and Sgt. Avila, as well as his training buddies, Williams and Robinson. McCarty proudly noted he is “no longer the one in the back doing the least pushups” during PT.
Corbyn Robinson of Ridgway will enlist in the Army as a combat medic. He plans on being a firefighter after serving. He will be able to gain all of the experience, qualifications and certifications he needs to pursue that goal while serving his country. Speaking of the impact of training with Williams and McCarty, Robinson said, “The training I do with these guys, all the time on weekends, 6:00 in the morning, before school, weights class ... all of it helped me find a lot of drive and passion in what I’m going to be doing. I’d like to make something of my life and I see this is a place where I can do it.” He thanked Harley Ryder, his Uncle Tad, his grandfather, his parents, sisters, his “PT boys” and his recruiters, Sgt. Henderson and Sgt. Abrahamson.
Weston Patton of Ridgway will be heading to Fort Sale, Okla., to enlist in the Army in the field artillery division. There, he will be trained to maintain the cannons on tanks and to inventory and fire ammunition. Patton said the military “is a family thing” for him, with all of his uncles having served. Patton said he had been thinking about enlisting, but Robinson is who “kept him going.” Patton credits the Boy Scouts with teaching him responsibility and leadership. He wished to thank Mr. Williams and his recruiters, Sgt. Henderson and Sgt. Abrahamson.
Kyle Cotton of Ridgway will be attending the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where he was just offered an appointment. He will learn how to engineer and repair unmanned aerial vehicles. Cotton hopes to apply this knowledge to “keep troops out of harm’s way and reduce casualties.” Cotton is currently training to compete at the state level in discus throwing, a challenge he views as giving him the “mental and physical discipline you need to thrive in an environment where you are learning new things and applying learned skills.”
Kade MacDougall of Ouray will be enlisting in the Army in the field artillery division. He will offer infantry fire support in combat situations. MacDougall aspires to be an Army Ranger. He was inspired by his older sister, who is attending Denver University on a ROTC scholarship. MacDougall is currently a teacher aide for Ouray High School’s outdoor ed program, which includes climbing, rappelling, hiking and kayaking. He thanked his dad, his recruiter and Mr. Williams.