View Full Version : The War at Home:

05-18-07, 08:30 AM
The War at Home:
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
May 17, 2007

This is the final story of a series In honor of Armed Forces Day (Saturday) and Memorial Day (May 2 , profiling soldiers with a connection to Summit County - your neighbors, friends and fellow community members in harm's way around the world.

Lance Cpl. Sean McCleneghan, U.S. Marine Corps

Sam McCleneghan is being interviewed from his Farmer's Korner home, talking about his son - Sean - who is out in the driveway "talking to some buddies."

Somehow it's symbolic of something else, though. Less than a month ago, Lance Cpl. Sean McCleneghan was in Iraq, on combat patrol with the First Tank Battalion, Alpha Company, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif.

"It's obviously nerve-wracking, trying," Sam says of the time while Sean was deployed to Iraq. "We were glad that he was in tanks, and not infantry. But it's still stressful because you don't hear from him for days or weeks at a time."

"As Sean would say, 'No news is good news'," Sam says.

During Sean's seven-month deployment, Sean's family - including mother Barbara, fiancee Micaela Kopicky, and his three brothers - would only hear from him sporadically, for obvious reasons. When they did connect, Sean would talk about his experiences, but not in much depth, Sam says.

"He's talked about (combat) some, but most if it was positive - especially about his relationships with other Marines," he says, respectfully adding, "With combat, he doesn't want to talk about it much."

From the way Sam tells it, Sean's got a pretty complex set of responsibilities when he's with his company. He was trained as a tank mechanic ("If the track gets blown up, he's the one who has to fix it," Sam says), but on combat missions Sean is a machine gunner. And when firing the main cannon, Sean is the loader and the radio man.

It's fortunate that no one in Sean's battalion was killed during his deployment - "as far as I understand," qualifies Sam. Close-calls included IEDs exploding nearby, and suicide attacks by cars wired to blow up battalion tanks.

Today, though, Sean is enjoying the comforts of Summit County - the place he's called home his whole life.

Lance Cpl. Adam Nantz, U.S. Marine Corps

Adam Nantz graduated from Summit High School in 2005, and the night before commencement, both he and fellow graduate Chris Marvin were recognized publicly by the school's principal - because both were going into the Marine Corps.

"Those boys got a standing ovation. I about fell over!" says Adam's mom, Paige.

"He and Chris had been really good friends since second grade. They'd play on the playground, and they always talked about joining the Marines. So they joined up together," she says.

Both graduated from boot camp in 2005, at Camp Pendleton in California, but took different paths from there. (Marvin was profiled in Monday's story, and is a crew chief on a Marine helicopter.) Adam went to train as an MP, military police, in San Antonio, Tex., and today secures the brig at Camp Pendleton.

As Paige tells it, Adam was inspired to the service here in Summit County, where he captained the local Explorers program, having the chance to work with Sheriffs Morales and Minor. Adam's older brother Brandon Brach, also spent time in the Marines, further heightening Adam's interest.

"I'm not just a mother to two Marines ... I'm a mother to many Marines," Paige says.

Fireman Apprentice Brady Brunvand, U.S. Navy

Landlocked as we are here in Summit County, it's not surprising that the preponderance of locals headed into the service choose a branch other than the Navy.

But after checking each of the branches out, 2005 Summit High grad Brady Brunvand "eventually landed on the Navy," says his dad, Jay.

"He just thought this was a real good opportunity to serve his country, and be able to get a college education - that's what he's trying to do now," Jay says.

Today, Brady is in Great Lakes, Ill., learning how to service diesel engines. He'll eventually end up in the engine room of a hulking Navy destroyer or battleship sometime in the near future.

"One of the things that I was really excited about ... is that joining the Navy means something different (than the other branches). It's hard to get a battleship into the middle of a desert," Jay jokes, with understandable relief.

Pfc. Sean D. Kleinschmidt, Army National Guard

Like Adam Nantz, Sean Kleinschmidt was impacted by the local Explorers program, which allowed him to ride along with the sheriff - his first taste of a community service job.

That experience, as well as an internship with the Red, White and Blue Fire Department, convinced the recent Summit High senior that service was where his future was pointing. Today, Sean's in Advanced Individual Training with the Army National Guard in Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

His mom Nancy will be headed to graduation with the rest of the family at the end of May - the same time that Summit High will be holding their graduation ceremonies.

Sean, his mom explains, did two semesters of high school work in just one, finishing classes last December so that he could go to basic training sooner rather than later. At Summit High's graduation, Sean's recruiter will accept the diploma on Sean's behalf.

"My husband Mark and I are very supportive of Sean. I want to believe that I raised him morally to do the right thing. ... We're proud that Sean chose this," Nancy says.

It's likely Sean won't be deployed anytime soon. Instead, he'll be stationed out of the Denver Armory, doing two weekends a month with the Guard, and working a federal security job of some kind the rest of the time.

But, "In the back of our minds, it's not a matter of if he ever goes to Iraq, it's probably when," Nancy says nervously.

Sgt. Jared M. Freeman, U.S. Marine Corps

Jared Freeman is on the front lines in a different way.

The 21-year-old born and raised in Summit County is a Marine, has been for almost four years now. But unlike a number of his brothers in the crossfire in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, Freeman has the more worldly assignment of securing U.S. Embassies around the globe.

"I have to thank God for small favors," his mom Marti says, about Jared's being selected for embassy duty within the Marine Corps. "I have a sense of relief that he's theoretically out of harm's way," she says.

Few Marines are selected for embassy duty, Marti explains, further describing how Jared "found his niche" in the Marines, and how within his first year and a half he had received three promotions. During specialized training in Oklahoma, Jared graduated number one out of a class of 40.

His embassy duty will last three years, each year spent in a different corner of the world. Jared's first year was spent at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, his time there highlighted by the recent contentious Mexican elections, which had the embassy on heightened alert.

Today, he's protects the embassy in Niamey, Niger - the relatively stable capital city of that West African nation.

"He's really doing well, and he loves it," Marti says.