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BEACON Senior News

Always ready to serve

Oct 31, 2022 03:48PM ● By Tim Menger

There has never been a shortage of disputes, battles and wars. When young boys grow up, they have an opportunity to do their part for God and Country. Joining the military gives them the strength to say, “I’m here and I will serve.”

Michael Gustafson, 56, currently lives on a quiet farm in Palisade. Before attaining his current job as a hydrological technician, he had a long history of military service. 

Gustafson grew up in Grand Junction. The oldest of four, he was often charged with raising his siblings while his parents worked. In 1983, the structure and responsibility of caring for his siblings became helpful when, at age 19, his friend talked him into joining the Army.

Soon he found himself in the summertime heat and humidity of Fort Dix in New Jersey.  He spent eight weeks going through boot camp before training as a tank turret mechanic on the M-1 Abrams tank—a top-secret project that required high clearance. Later, he took his training with him to South Korea for four months before being stationed in Karlsruhe, Germany.  

Gustafson finished his four years with the Army in 1988. This is where military service ends for many veterans, but not for him. He enrolled in Mesa State College in Grand Junction and joined the Army Reserve in 1989. There he became a combat bridge engineer while he studied geology. 

Although being in the reserve did not require the same in-person commitment as full-time military service, Army Reserve soldiers still had strict routines to follow. Gustafson said reserve service required him to attend what was nicknamed “drill,” which entailed a three-day training once a month. Every fourth month, reserve soldiers would be deployed into the field. All of this yearly training was capped off by “summer camp,” a concentrated two-week training session to demonstrate the skills they’d learned so far.  

He stressed that as a reserve soldier, a person had to not only keep up with training but always be ready to drop everything to be called to active military service. 

His unit was mobilized in 2003 for Desert Shield and again in 2007 for other middle eastern conflicts. In 2003, he was promoted to Acting First Sergeant until his combat bridge unit was deactivated. He was promoted again to Master Sergeant and led a training brigade in Denver for seven years. 

After 25 years, Gustafson retired from the military in 2010.  Gustafson received an Army Commendation Medal from the President for training 750,000 troops without injury or re-training. 


Check out this other local veteran story:

95-year-old Fruita veteran Calvin Davis looks at photos from his time in the military

Fruita veteran Calvin Davis served in three military branches, three wars

From Navy cook to Air Force firefighter, this World War II veteran has seen it all. Read More » 

 Veterans Day Events

November 10: Veterans Day BBQ

Enjoy burgers, hot dogs and good times at Bank of Colorado’s annual Veterans Day BBQ. You don’t need to be a Bank of Colorado customer to attend.
11 a.m.-2 p.m. | 945 S. Grand Mesa Dr., Cedaredge | Free | 970-856-8600

November 11: Veterans Day Film Screening

The Ute Indian Museum shows “The Warrior Tradition,” a film chronicling the military accounts of Native American warriors from their own points of view, and “True Whisperers,” a story of the Navajo code talkers during World War II.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. | 17253 Chipeta Road, Montrose | Free | www.historycolorado.org | 970-249-3098

November 12: Veterans Day Parade

Gather on Grand Junction’s Main Street to honor local veterans at the 30th annual Veterans Parade. Wear patriotic colors and salute those who have served our country.
2 p.m. | Main Street, Grand Junction | Free | 970-248-2733

November 13: Stars & Stripes USO Show

Honor those serving and those who have served at Sweet Adelines Grand Mesa Chorus’ USO-themed show at Colorado Mesa University’s Love Recital Hall. Get ready for swing music and singing by guest choruses and quartets including the Bookcliff Barbershop Harmony Chorus and comedic headliners from Denver, the De’ Ja Vu Quartet. Call for advance tickets or stop by Roper Music, Western Anglers or Sarah’s Salon. Get your tickets early as they increase by $2 at the door.
3-5 p.m. | 1221 N. 12th St., Grand Junction | $12 seniors (65+), $15 adults, $5 veterans and children | www.grandmesaacappella.com/events | 970-256-9763


Veteran Resources

American Legion Post 2006, Fruita............ 970-640-7971
American Legion Post 50, Palisade............ 970-260-3209
Base Camp 40 (outdoor excursions for veterans)............ 970-250-2858
Commemorative Air Force............970-256-0693
Disabled American Veterans, GJ............970-263-2848
Disabled American Veterans, Montrose & Delta............970-240-4698
Fleet Reserve Association of America............970-434-0869
Grand Valley Combined Honor Guard............970-243-0476
Military Officers Association, Branch 244............970-241-8714
Operation Interdependence............970-526-4217
The Vet Center, GJ............970-245-4156
VA Benefits............800-827-1000
VA Caregiver Support............855-260-3274
VA Clinic, Montrose............970-249-7791
VA Eligibility and Enrollment............970-263-2813
VA Medical center, GJ............970-242-0731
VA Mental Health............970-263-2824
VA Womens Veterans Program............970-242-0731 x2508
Veteran Service Officer, Mesa County............970-248-2733
Veteran Service Officer, Montrose County............970-249-2115
Veterans Art Center, Grand Junction............970-462-3126
Veterans Committee of the Western Slope............970-589-6238
Veterans Golden Age Games CHAMPS............970-245-6175
Veterans Memorial Cemetery, GJ............970-263-8986
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1247, GJ............970-242-9940
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3981, GJ............970-812-5003
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4663, Clifton............970-434-9470
Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 784, Montrose............970-765-4858
Veterans Services, Delta County............970-874-2082
Veterans Transportation Service, GJ............970-263-5095
Welcome Home Alliance for Veterans............970-765-2210
Western Region Once Source............970-257-3760
Western Slope Patriot Guard Riders............970-250-1174