Summit County veterans trade stories at local elementary schools
After Breckenridge Boy Scout Troop 187 raised the American flag, the choir Breckenridge Elementary students sang “America the Beautiful” as part of the school’s annual Veterans Day celebration Wednesday morning.
“It’s amazing when the principal asks, ‘Do you know anyone (who’s) in the military?’ and we definitely have some hands raised. It’s nice that we recognize them,” said Lauretta Babich, a general manager with Breckenridge Resort Managers who organized the ceremony.
In previous years, Breckenridge students sent candy, playing cards and other gifts to troops stationed overseas; but, this year, they decided to do something different.
Throughout the month of November, the school will have small collection cups for change to be collected for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) Good Grief Camp, providing support to children who have lost a loved one to military service. In previous years, Breckenridge Elementary has sent as many as three students, though Babich hoped to raise a minimum of $75 to send at least one child to camp.
On the opposite side of the county, Frisco Elementary students hosted a similar ceremony, as veterans from Iraq, Vietnam, Korea and World War II went from classroom to classroom sharing stories of their service.
“The best part is when they share their memories,” Frisco Elementary Principal Renea Hill said. “It’s pretty spectacular.”
Chuck Heuck was sent to South Korea in 1970, after being drafted into the U.S. Army that same year. With a father who had served in World War II, he recalled his father being displeased when he would play with plastic green army men growing up.
Heuck was spared from serving in Vietnam, as his brother served. But he spent an extended period of time in South Korea — about 13 months — for his two years of active duty service .
“They lost my paperwork,” Heuck laughed. “Like anybody there, I was a bit scared, and homesick.”
After basic training, he was convinced that he would be drafted into the infantry, like many others before him. Instead, he ended up working a motor pool with several Koreans who assisted the U.S. Army, working with Jeeps and other military vehicles.
Following his service, he moved to Summit County after buying a home in Breckenridge. He now owns furniture consignment store Alpine Accents in downtown Frisco.
“I’ve been fortunate throughout the years,” he reflected.
Faced with the near-certainty of the draft, Dave Cope, a ski instructor at Keystone, joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Trained as a medic, his four years of service included a tour in Vietnam.
Having grown up in Las Vegas, Nevada, “I left when I discovered a different climate,” he quipped.
After returning to the United States, he found work with the Aurora Fire Department in 1978, staying with the department for 22 years. Drawn to Colorado’s mountains after a ski trip to Keystone, he has stayed in Summit since.
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