Pfc. Lucas Sullivan, left, holds his senior project, a drawing he completed before finishing Soroco High School a semester early to join the Marines. He and childhood friend Airman Ronald Nielsen, right, planned to enlist in the U.S. Armed Services before their 2007 high school graduations.

Photo by Margaret Hair

Pfc. Lucas Sullivan, left, holds his senior project, a drawing he completed before finishing Soroco High School a semester early to join the Marines. He and childhood friend Airman Ronald Nielsen, right, planned to enlist in the U.S. Armed Services before their 2007 high school graduations.

Soroco 2007 grads talk about getting ready to fight



Billy Sullivan talks about the many portraits of his son Lucas in uniform. Lucas, a 2007 Soroco High School graduate, is set for deployment to Iraq in January.

— 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."

- To reach Margaret Hair, call 871-4204

or e-mail


Scott Wedel 9 years, 4 months ago

Wonder if this is related to at least two occasions in the past couple of months in which what I think was a F-16 circled over Oak Creek at about 3,000 ft. A pilot checking on his mechanic's family house and town?

Anyway, I'm proud of these kids.


babette dickson 9 years, 4 months ago

That's the way the country enlists his youngest kids. No college in sight, no good job skills in sight... the army is here for you... and take care of you... Hmmm! Dad should talk to veterans families and check how WELL the gov is taking care of its Sons. It is a scam, it is not for Freedom, it is for oil, for Washington's interests. But how much worth the life of a kid from Oak Creek, CO to them? Not much. Such was my late husband from Chicago... nothing and welcome to hell to deal with VA when injured or dealing with PTSD... and the Gov taking care of "them". Bitter and revolted I am... you bet! The gov is taking the life of our kids away, use them, and will let them down upon their return. How much was the gov's check Lucas got when he enlisted... That's how they attract young kids from the plains and mountains. I am ashamed and I am tired to see young men and women losing their life for oil and the Empire. I'd rather see them working on a lift on the mountain! I hope no flag folded on a coffin will ever come to Oak Creek like mine seating on a shelf in my house! Peace.


grannyrett 9 years, 4 months ago

Felix-As the daughter of a deceased war vet, the widow of another deceased war vet, and the granny to a current member of the armed forces, I know the pain you are going through, but each of these kids who enlisted did so of their own free will and deserve nothing but our respect and our prayers. To all who have served, are serving, and plan to serve, thank you. God bless you.


MtnWarlock 9 years, 4 months ago

Felix, I'm sorry about your experience with the VA. I am a war vet and have had VA let downs as well. I don't hate or despise my country for it! I made a decision to serve and volunteered as a patriot of the American way of life, one of which you enjoy in bitterness! These boy's are doing the same as I did. I know some of the working brass in this war and their efforts are working. I know that I don't want this battle in our streets like 911 was. I don't like war either but, it's a unfortunate reality of our culture. And as for these boy's working lifts instead of serving our country! Well, I would like to see any kid productive, even cleaning barns if needed. However, I worry more about the kids that add to our drug culture from lack of discipline or direction. They are the one's that are more dangerous to us than kids in the military! I worry every day for the people who are in harms way for beloved way of life here! I know and understand about the fatalities of war that return breathing. That is just the shameful fact of war and the ugly costs of freedom because, freedom is not free, somebody pays, always! I'm still paying! As for Ron and Lucas, thanks boy's for carrying on for us who carried on! Salute! Oooh-rah, semper-phi!


80488mom 9 years, 4 months ago

MtnWarlock - thank you. Our government might often times suck but our country is the best in good part to people like yourself and these young soldiers. God Bless!


Dave Ege 9 years, 4 months ago

Felix, It's people like you who just don't get it. These fine young men are doing what they are asked to do. Don't think they necessarily want to be in Iraq, or any other war torn area, but they will be HERE to protect winers like you if our country is ever attacked. How dare you spew your polital crap in this context. Get some pride and courage and at least sign your name to your thoughts. Anonymous thoughts hold no weight with me. Sign it, shut up, or move to another country. I'm sure you will feel better or safer in Mexico or Canada. I know Luke and his father. They are fine upstanding citizens of our town and we owe tham both a debt of gratitude!


rjsess05 9 years, 4 months ago

Some good points have been made, however this article is about these young men from Oak Creek who are making the ultimate sacrifice. We should be proud as Americans of these young men no matter what reason they chose to join the military...........Thank you Lucas and Ronald.


bigdog 9 years, 4 months ago

As a person who employees many people, i can tell you going in to the military service is more than a job. The people who have been through military training and experience by FAR are the best employees I hire. They are respectful, thankful and very very reliable.

What would you rather have these kids who are not going to go to college do? Work as a dishwasher?

True, they "may" be put in harms way, but they are serving our nation and getting a life lesson that is irreplaceable.

Many thanks to these young men for serving and protecting us.


weallnutz 9 years, 4 months ago

young men like this are going and serving their country! Serving their country is their way to stand up and fight to protect your right to accuse your own country of sacrifcing its kids for "Oil and the empire." Sadaam would have beheaded you for such statements, but because of wonderful young men like this, you can make such comments here.


OnTheBusGus 9 years, 4 months ago

As one recently out of military service (12 years combined in the Army and Army reserve) I have mixed feelings for those boys. It is noble to serve in the military but then you kind of get to the point where you feel like the military is getting more out of you than you are out of it. That comes after two deployments, I think. I hope those two get the most they can out of military service, gain some skills, get some college courses done on Uncle Sam's dime and grow as people, meet some great friends that they will call brothers, have lasting memories, do some crazy things and live to talk about it, most of all I hope they come back to Routt County safely.


Dave Ege 9 years, 4 months ago

Felix, I am sorry I did not include your late husband in my list of those to thank. I too am sorry that you and he didn't get treated well by the VA. This is an ongoing problem. Those of us in the private sector must fight our insurance companies for proper care that we have paid for. Thank you to all Vets! God Bless you all, past, present and those who have passed to a better place. No, our system isn't perfect. Just remember to VOTE. This is the only way to make change. Our Vets fought for our right to vote. Use it! Cherish it!


the_Lizard 9 years, 4 months ago

Ummm...Feliz, Sullivan's family has had many members that have served in the Marines. According to this article, he WANTED to join to carry on a family tradition. Although I hear your bitterness which comes from losing your husband, it irritates me that you paint all graduates of Soroco and possibly the entire county as poorly prepared to do much more that run a chair lift at the ski hill. How insulting! Many if not most of the people I know who graduated from Soroco are very successful, whether they served in the military, are college grads. or learned job skills through experience. BTW the military isn't necessarily looking for people that are not going to be able to learn and be able to implement necessary skills. In other words they aren't looking for losers. Thanks to these three young men, they are in our prayers for a safe return


Ms_E_Bronte 9 years, 4 months ago

Feliz -- bitterness can understandably blind a person -- but for now, we should all show our support and gratitude to these young men and their families and the choices they have made, remember them in our prayers as they start their new journeys, and be proud they are from South Routt -- regardless of the outcome. God bless you all and keep you safe. And, above all, THANK YOU!!!


id04sp 9 years, 4 months ago


Revealing one's true name doesn't mean anything. My true name is a matter of public record to those who have stolen from me. They know that I know them for the crooks they are, and exposing myself and others who share my name to attention from random individuals with no stake in the problems would not improve things for any of us.

As for these two young men, they have done something that counts. They have stood up and said, "You have to come through ME to hurt my family." That's what it's all about in the long run. They're not hiding behind a bar, bench, desk or dashboard letting somebody else take the risks necessary to protect our families from harm. Freedom is a byproduct of this kind of courage and sacrifice.


justmyopinion 9 years, 4 months ago

As a proud parent of a 19 year old son in the Army and who is right at this moment stationed at a small patrol base on the eastern side of Baghdad instead of being here at home with his family, I respect the parents of these young men. Not only are the young men doing something that they believe in and are sacrificing part of their youth, so are the parents, brothers, sisters and every other member of that young mans life sacrificing to support our great country. Without people like that what kind of country would we have?? My prayers go to these young men and their families so that they are able to come home safely to their families as I pray every night for the safe return of my son....God Bless America


candylane 9 years, 3 months ago

I have watched these three boys since Kindergarten. They are fine representatives from not only SoRoCo but Routt County. I could not be more proud if all three were my own. If you had met them along their school careers, you probably would not have pick them to go into the military. One was so serious, one was so quiet and one was the class clown. They all worked together in different sports and know the importance of depending on you team to get the job done. All of them would go out of their way to help someone in need, pulling someone out of the ditch, helping someone one move or just being there to listen. At some point it may have become clear they would put others before themselves, but not so much until the day they enlisted.

Thank you for all the positive words that have been written, and for the negative, please keep them to yourself. One day they may approach you and exchange war stories, but until then all they need is positive thoughts and prayers. Just like your vet, they are doing something that only a percentage of people feel the call to do. They are protecting our freedoms. This country was built on not always the popular decision, but always the necessary decison for some to put themselves above the safe chairlift jobs and put themselves on the front line. The families of these boys, just like all the Routt county boys that are serving, have many mixed feelings. We all know that the military, just like life, has no guarentees. They did not enlist because of the guarentees. The one sure thing they knew when they went in was that they would be on the front line, and it would be a hard, long road to get there. The truth is, there are no guarentees going to college. You don't know if you will get a job once you are finished much less how safe it is! They went into the dangers of this calling with open eyes.

Please keep them all in your hearts and prayers. Please keep positive energy going their way, and all our service people, those we know about and those that are faceless, but doing the job they felt call to do. Thank you Luke, Ronnie and Kane. Go out, keep your heads down, do your job, have an adventure outside of the county line and stay safe. I know God will keep you and protect you. This I believe. I love you all, but Kane you are my heart. I love you son.


the_Lizard 9 years, 3 months ago

Beautiful tribute for your son and the others CL!


babette dickson 9 years, 3 months ago

Only Vets, or families of Vets, might have truly understood my message. I have and I will always support, help, listen to the Veterans. For 15 years, I legally fought the government for them and their memories. I've helped widows across the country to cope with their loss, to fight VA, to make peace with their fate. I just deeply regret that so many of my fellow Americans still believe that our freedom is due - or maintained - because our young men and women join the army and fight for a cause like the Iraq war... It is not a cause. Did the Vietnam war, the Korean war, the Algerian war, the Balkan war, the Afghan war, and so many other wars ever change anything in regard to our standard of living, our freedom here in the U.S.A. The answer is NO. The world is even more unstable than ever because of the current war. Only WW1 and WW2 made significant changes, and it was a different historical, political, geopolitical context. I don't judge any of these kids from Oak Creek. I am scared for them, their mothers, fathers, siblings and friends. I really wished that had considered an another path given the current context. Having been married to a Green Beret/Special Forces, I just have a different perspective on war, on the justifications of a war and on the treatment - and lies - from the government. Because of my late husband experiences, his involvement in the Phoenix program in the Vietnam war, and the aftermath of his military duty, I just want to tell these 3 kids: Never trust "them" (the government, the military). Their friends to be, and the brotherhood they are about to discover are the only reliable sources. For some of the - anonymous - readers who swiftly sealed the deal on my expression of anger: I respect each individual soldiers of the US Army, and I've learned a lot from a very close, unique connection with my husband's friends. Now if the 3 boys from Oak Creek believe in their career in the Army, that's great and they should embrace their dream. But it is a lure to make them believe that they do it "for us and our freedom".... The army is not a philanthropic enterprise! Not a Senator or high profile government officials has his/ her child enlisted - or sent- to Iraq. How come? I wish them well and to stay safe


MtnWarlock 9 years, 3 months ago

Felix, Since the Nam, there have been many things we as freedom fighters have questioned our government about. Government is not perfect hence, it makes mistakes as well! Besides, is not government "we the people"? There are many aspects of this current war that the people understand well.....OIL and TRERORIZM! We can blame anything we want on the government, politicians, big business, etc., but we are "ALL" guilty of our life styles and ways of life! The oil fields of the Middle East have the bloodline of the world's way of life and the USA is its biggest consumer. One factor in the war is that the USA is mostly Christian, which is a detestable religion in that region. The extremists that are terrorizing the US hate us because of our alliance with Israel and our involvement with making them their own land in 1947.Giving the Jewish people land, seemed to plant the seed of this war long before most of us were born! The terrorists truly believe the Infidels "The USA", need to be abolished so, their way of life can be preserved! As far as where oil stands, let the axis of evil gain control of the world's oil reserves and see the turmoil it will create in the world markets of oil dependent nations! All the sudden, the American dream and the American way of life will be greatly disrupted if not destroyed along with many other countries. Could it start world war III? Maybe! Could there be a world ruler in the Middle East that will control world oil reserves as Nostradomis and others predicted, maybe? Can we take that chance? Can we afford not to have patriots join the armed services to preserve our way of life? I think not! We do need to reduce our dependence on oil now! I would love to see the US give OPEC the finger and say see ya! Its a fact that some of the money from oil sales and a lot of the money from illegal drugs funds terrorism. We could be our own enemy with our life styles! Is this a great way of life here in America? YES! You don't see boats leaving the USA with refugees. The ones you do see leaving are on naval ships waiting to do their patriotic duty of preserving their countries way of life. To those militants, they care about the USA, because they know the good life we have. They know bloodshed is a fact of their job, even if it's their own. Many shed their blood in past wars for the same reason. This is the way I see things in my opinion of this war. As for those who have suffered the casualties of war and to those who are casualties that have returned alive, I empathize with respect. Like I've said before; war is a terrible thing however, sadly enough it's been in our human nature close to the beginning of time. Salute!


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