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Buckley's own continues to serve

Richard Guerrero, retired Air Force veteran, sits in front of the names of fallen veterans, Nov. 2, 2018 at the Aurora Elk Lodge in Aurora, Colorado. Guerrero is the Aurora Elk Lodge's exalted ruler, responsible for the lodge's 200 members who give back to the community and it's veterans. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Michael D. Mathews)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado --

November 11th marks the annual observance, Veterans Day, which pays tribute to all American veterans who have served their country; the number of American veterans is minuscule compared to the total population and this day is one to highlight those brave few. One of those veterans is Richard Guerrero, who served at Buckley Air Force Base.

Guerrero was born in San Marcos, Texas. At the age of five, his family moved from Texas to Boulder, Colorado, where he spent all of his education years. During his senior year of high school, Guerrero was given the opportunity to join the Air National Guard.

“My friends and I were told by someone that we should join the Air National Guard,” said Guerrero. “We didn’t even know what it was, but it seemed like a good thing to do and I wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity to skip school on a Friday to come down to Buckley.”

On Feb. 20, 1954, Guerrero officially signed his contract and was a new member of the ANG, working in transportation on Naval Air Station-Denver.

On Jan. 23, 1968, the USS Pueblo, an environmental research ship, was attacked and captured by North Korean forces. In response to this attack, the 120th and the 140th were activated, sending Guerrero and his unit to Korea for two years. Due to the high demand of overseas forces after the attack, the unit was also sent to Japan for two years following Korea. While serving in Japan, Guerrero joined an inspection team where he ensured readiness on installations throughout Japan and Korea.

After completing his overseas tour, Guerrero returned to Buckley Air National Guard Base where he served as a transportation officer and filled the installation’s deputy commander position as a civilian; he worked both positions until he retired in 1996.

Today, Richard Guerrero is the Aurora Elks Lodge exalted ruler, which is essentially the president of the lodge, taking full responsibility of the lodge’s operation. The Aurora Elks Lodge, one of 12 lodges within the tri-county area, spends numerous hours annually contributing to the community and taking care of veterans within the area. These lodges, consisting of thousands of veterans, meet bi-monthly to discuss opportunities for donations, fundraising, volunteerism, and creating jobs for homeless and mentally disabled.

“We, as Elk members, just want to give back,” said Thomas Welch, Aurora Elk Lodge secretary and U.S Air Force veteran. “That’s what this is all about; it’s our opportunity to provide for the community and show thanks for those who have sacrificed everything for our fine Nation.”

November 11th is a day which Americans celebrate and recognize the sacrifice and valor of our Nation’s veterans. Showing appreciation for veterans like Guerrero and Welch highlights our Airmen, our history and our strength.

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