Colin Walt stands in front of his home north of Craig on Friday morning. Walt, a 2011 Moffat County High School graduate, was offered scholarships from several universities, but decided to join the Marines instead.

Photo by Bridget Manley

Colin Walt stands in front of his home north of Craig on Friday morning. Walt, a 2011 Moffat County High School graduate, was offered scholarships from several universities, but decided to join the Marines instead.

2011 MCHS grad opts to join U.S. Marine Corps

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Colin Walt, center, stands at his boot camp graduation ceremony on Sept. 9. Walt, a private first class in the Marines, is a on a 10-day leave until Tuesday, when he leaves for Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Calif.

Quotable

“If I was going to join the military, I was going to join the best.”

Colin Walt, 2011 Moffat County High School graduate and private first class, U.S. Marine Corps.

The list of Colin Walt’s achievements would make almost any college dean look twice.

A 4.0 student all through high school.

Captain of the Moffat County High School football team and the Moffat County Bulldogs club hockey team.

A student who earned 34 college credits at Colorado Northwestern Community College by the time he earned his high school diploma.

The 2011 MCHS graduate’s academic acumen did catch attention at a college — three colleges, in fact. The universities of Arizona, Iowa and Nebraska each offered him scholarships that would have given him a break on his out-of-state tuition.

If this was all you knew about Colin — who also goes by CJ — you might conclude his way in life was already set out for him.

But he decided to take a different path.

Instead of books, he chose boot camp. Instead of a sweatshirt emblazoned with a college mascot, he chose a stiffly starched uniform with a pair of highly polished black shoes to match.

Colin chose the U.S. Marine Corps.

“If I was going to join the military, I was going to join the best,” he said Thursday evening, sitting at the dining room table in his parents’ home north of Craig.

His decision to join the military wasn’t a complete surprise to his parents.

They expected him to go to college, his mother Joanie Walt said, but a career in the military “was also always in the back of our minds because he’s always been very military oriented.”

See, Colin’s not just a star athlete or a Class of

2011 co-valedictorian.

For starters, he’s also a history buff. From the time he was a child, Colin has always been fascinated with history, he said — especially military history.

He’s a natural born leader, Joanie said. He’s quick to take initiative, and command came easy to him, even as a youngster.

“For some reason, everybody listened to him, and that’s one thing I could never understand,” she said. “Even the neighborhood kids … he would tell them to go do something, and they would go do it.”

And, he has an inclination toward discipline and orderliness.

“I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist,” Colin said, picking up a water bottle on the table and carefully setting it down again in almost the same spot, “but I like organization.”

Joanie can attest to this.

“He could always tell when somebody walked into his room if he wasn’t in there,” she said. “Everything has a place and if you moved it ….”

“I knew when you moved it,” Colin said, smiling.

And, so when it came time to choose, Colin knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to join the military — more specifically, the Marine Corps.

“When I looked at the Marines, they seemed the most disciplined (and) … focused on what needed to be done,” Colin said. “There was no messing around.”

Colin is on a 10-day leave, but soon he’ll re-enter the rhythm of military life.

The private first class graduated from boot camp — “the most fun I never want to have again,” he said with a wry smile — on Sept. 9.

On Tuesday, he’ll be headed to Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Calif., then to Twentynine Palms in the California desert, where he’ll begin training as a field radio operator.

But, from one former military man’s perspective, Colin needn’t worry about whether he’ll fare well in his chosen path.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he will do great things in the military,” said David Grabowski, one of Colin’s MCHS math teachers.

Grabowski, who served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army for six years, said Colin sought him out when he wanted to know what serving in the military would be like.

Colin could have gone to college and remained a civilian.

“But instead he chose the military, which says a lot about his character, also” Grabowski said.

In four years, Colin will have another choice: Re-enlist, or go to college on the GI bill. Eventually, he may decide to go to school to become a history teacher.

If he does, he’ll be choosing the life he’s forgoing now: the books, the lecture halls, the degree. Only, this time, his education will be paid for by the U.S. government.

But, that’s a few years down the road. Right now, Colin is a Marine.

And he’s proud of that.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1793 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com.

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