Dick Ward (L)
29th Infantry, 1944
82nd Airborne, 1993
The organization Erik's working with this year is Huts For Vets, a program he's an alumnus of. Founded in Aspen in 2015, Huts For Vets has provided more than 200 veterans all-expenses-paid wilderness therapy programming. Groups of ten spend four days at a 10th Mountain Division hut in the Colorado high country to confide in each other, complete therapeutic readings, and realize the healing qualities of wilderness.
Erik chose to serve partly because his grandfather had served. Richard Ward entered the Army in 1943 as a field lineman, and on June 6, 1944, he took part in the assault of Omaha Beach. He fought throughout the European Theater with the 29th Infantry Division for two years and survived the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the American Defense Service Ribbon, American Campaign Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Ribbon, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Ribbon (with four campaign stars), and French Croix De Guerre Ribbon (with arrowhead device for his D-Day assault). Richard Ward died March 3, 2018, at the age of 92.
Erik entered the Army in 1991 during the First Gulf War and served as an airborne infantryman in the 82nd Airborne Division. During his enlistment, Erik completed 25 simulated-combat nighttime parachute operations and a four-month deployment to Central America. He attended Fort Irwin National Training Center's Desert Warfare School, Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain Course, Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System Course, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle Driver Course, and Dragon Missile Jump Pack Course. He earned the expert rifleman badge, U.S. parachutist badge, Honduran parachutist badge, Army Lapel Button, Army Service Ribbon, and National Defense Service Medal.