Steamboat Springs For everything from shaping his long hair into a crew cut to adjusting to boot camp after going to school with the same people his whole life, Pfc. Lucas Sullivan finds himself saying the same line: "You just kind of take it as it comes."
Sitting in his parent's Oak Creek living room Friday with Airman Ronald Nielsen, who he's gone to school with since kindergarten, Sullivan said he knows parts of his upcoming deployment to Iraq won't be pretty.
But that just goes along with his philosophy.
"That's pretty much how the military works," Sullivan said. "You've got your ups and downs. And the ups are big ups, and the downs are big downs."
Sullivan is one of three members of the Soroco High School Class of 2007 who are in training for combat - he leaves for Al Asad Airfield on Jan. 3 as part of a HIMARS (rocket) unit. Nielsen is stationed at Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix, learning how to repair F-16 fighter planes. Kane Johnson is stationed at Fort Carson as a military police officer and is scheduled to deploy in September.
With an extensive family connection to the Marines, Sullivan said joining the armed forces when he finished high school was something he'd been planning on for a long time. He even finished his credits early so he could get to boot camp and walk with his class as a Marine.
But that ambition didn't make the transition from Oak Creek to boot camp an easy one.
"Around here you don't really meet too many people, and you get there (boot camp) and there's people from all over the place," Sullivan said.
"I'm used to just a small, knowing-everybody town, and going into boot camp and learning a whole new 60 guys all over again, that was different to me," he said.
Billy Sullivan, Lucas's father, said he knows from his experience in the Marines that his son will be taken care of. He and Donna Sullivan said they are proud of their son, but scared for him at the same time.
Billy Sullivan emphasized why his son and his friends enlisted and urged Routt County - and everyone else - not to forget his guys.
"I think that people just need to remember why these guys are in the service. They're doing it for all of us, for freedom," Billy Sullivan said.
Lucas Sullivan said he also has personal motivations for joining the Marines.
"I feel more like I'm doing it for family and friends and for myself and the guy next to me," he said. "It's about growing up, because I'm not going to go through college or anything, and I kind of take this as my college years. The point is to find myself and find out what I really want to do with my life."
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