Students Travel to Normandy-Sponsored by Paul Bushong

The quintessential question asked of students returning to school in the fall has been “What did you do this summer?” For nine area high school students, the answer may have been “I traveled back in time.” A group of nine students representing Aspen, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs toured the beaches and farmlands of Normandy, France in June on a 12-day excursion sponsored by benefactor and Carbondale resident Paul Bushong. Their experiences were unforgettable—a goal of the program’s benefactor Bushong. He wants to make sure the sacrifices made by U.S. troops are never forgotten. Mr. Bushong served in the Korean War but visited Normandy about 30 years ago and was moved by the experience.

Bushong also is a firm believer in helping youth in the Roaring Fork Valley further their education. He was able to combine these 2 pursuits in sponsoring this educational 12-day trip to Normandy, France.

Nine students from Aspen to Glenwood Springs received scholarships from Bushong’s foundation to travel to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, and then go on a museum-led tour of the battlefields on the beaches of Normandy, France.

Only sophomores and juniors this school year were eligible, ensuring that they would share their experiences back at their respective schools upon their return. Bushong built the “never forget” element into the program.

Applicants had to write essays expressing why they were interested in the trip. Upon selection, they joined the Normandy Academy Student Tour led by the National World War II Museum. The Roaring Fork contingent accounted for nine of the 29 students from across the United States on the tour this summer.

The 12-day trip June 19-30 will take the students from Denver to New Orleans, then to Paris and ultimately to Normandy, where they will visit the beaches where Allied troops landed on D-Day and the cemeteries where thousands of troops were buried.

The students selected for the tour are Ian Murtagh, Chloe Brettman and Maya McDonough of Aspen High School; Natalie Simecek and Josef Lloyd of Basalt High School; Ralph Good of Roaring Fork High School; and Dylan Uren, Gisely Torres and Eric Bucchin of Glenwood Springs High School.

Ian Murtagh, a junior at Aspen High, said “I’ve always had a great love for history and for World War II.” He welcomes the requirement of making a presentation to other students next fall about his experiences. “I want to be able to tell anyone who will listen; I want to keep this history alive.”

Eric Bucchin, a junior at Glenwood Springs High School, is also a history buff who saw a chance to further her understanding of a formative U.S. and world event. “It was a great opportunity,” she said, “and I couldn’t pass it up.”

Now that the trip is completed, Bucchin intends to report on her experiences at part of the Capstone Project required of seniors in the Roaring Fork School District. She will craft a presentation on what she learned to other students as part of that project, fulfilling Bushong’s wishes that the stories of World War II are not forgotten.