Summit High grads headed to war |

Summit High grads headed to war

Harriet Hamilton
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

ALMA, Colorado ” Sean Kleinschmidt, a 2007 Summit High School graduate, is on his way to Iraq with the 220th Military Police Company of the Colorado Army National Guard.

Eighteen-year-old Kleinschmidt joined the National Guard at the beginning of his senior year at Summit High. He graduated a semester early in order to start basic training last January. After working as a recruiting assistant through the Denver Armory since finishing boot camp in May, Kleinschmidt leaves this week for a 400-day assignment to work with enemy prisoners-of-war in Iraq. Fellow Summit High graduate George Melott serves in the same company.

“The type of mission we’re going to be doing is probably going to be history-making,” Kleinschmidt said about his deployment. “We’ll be helping the people getting back into their communities.”

Standing 6-feet 7-inches, Kleinschmidt was initially disappointed to learn he was too tall to fly helicopters ” his first love ” but eventually adjusted his ambitions and set his sites on being a law enforcement officer.

His experience in the National Guard, he said, will give him an advantage when he’s old enough to serve in civilian law enforcement. When asked about the potential danger of deployment in a war zone, Kleinschmidt confessed his emotions are mixed.

“I’m a little nervous,” he said. “I’m more excited to go see what the culture’s like, but I’m nervous, too.”

Kleinschmidt, an only child, added that his parents, Mark and Nancy, while very supportive, have concerns about his safety.

“I think deployment will be harder on them than it is for me,” he said.

Melott said he has wanted to be a law enforcement officer for as long as he can remember.

The 2006 Summit High School graduate joined the 220th Military Police Company right out of school – at age 17. After several months of weekend maneuvers, he was sent to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri last summer for Basic Combat Training. Melott won’t say exactly what went on during boot camp, but he knows the experience lasted exactly “four months and 19 days.”

Kleinschmidt and Melott’s company will staff at detention center in Ramadi, Iraq.

Melott, who has never before been outside U.S. borders, said his primary emotion about his upcoming deployment is one of excitement.

“I’m pumped up,” he said. “I’m psyched. It’s going to be a new experience.”

Melott sister Lorena said she’s extremely proud of her brother’s accomplishments, but has mixed emotions about his trip to Iraq.

“It’s a scary thing,” she said. “But I know he has a good head on his shoulders. I think it takes a lot of strength. No matter what your opinions are about the war, somebody needs to protect this country.”

Melott’s mother, Lorna, a manager at the Safeway Starbucks in Frisco, said her relationship with God gives her faith that her son will come back safely.

“I know God will watch over him,” she said. “It’s a good thing he’s doing.”

In addition to his mother and sister, Melott’s father, also named George, his younger brother, John, 13, and his nephew, Devon, 2, will be waiting for his return to the High Country.

Kleinschmidt and Melott’s company is scheduled to return on Feb. 9, 2009.

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