Friday, August 17, 2007

Alun Howells remembered

A Gunnison County soldier who loved being outdoors and wrote on his website of wanting to sit down with friends and family for a beer and fish and chips after his tour was killed in Iraq this week.

Spec. Alun R. Howells, 20, was killed Monday from "enemy direct fire" in Baghdad, according to a U.S. Army news release. Howells, who was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., grew up in the small community of Parlin, east of Gunnison.

He graduated from the Gunnison Valley School, an alternative school, in 2005.

"He showed up as kind of a boy and grew up into a young man," said Jonathan Houck, who taught Howells for several years at the school.

The Gunnison Valley School emphasizes experiential education, Houck said, and Howells embraced that, going on camping, climbing and skiing trips with classmates. Houck said Howells had diverse interests. He participated in 4-H when he was younger, Houck said, and loved to fish, camp and hike.

"For him, living in a place like the Gunnison Valley was part of his lifestyle," Houck said. "Camping for him was not a special event; it was part of his life."

Howells' parents - who moved to Wisconsin after Howells graduated - are from Great Britain, and Howells had dual citizenship, Houck said.

On his page, Howells wrote of wanting to finish his military service and then enroll in college to get a degree in sports medicine. He said he wanted to travel, perhaps live in Great Britain for a while, maybe buy a home in Wisconsin and buy a BMW.

But his most detailed goal was perhaps the simplest.

"I would like to meet all my family and friends again in a nice pub that's NOT IN IRAQ and sit down and have a beer and some Fish 'n' Chips with them and be grateful for their presence and humor and all the other things I took for granted before I left," he wrote. "I miss you all! I hope you all know you're loved, and I can't wait to see you all again."

News of Howells' death spread quickly through Gunnison. Houck said several staff members and students at the Gunnison Valley School planned to get together Thursday night to remember Howells.

"We're gathering at a friend's house," Houck said. "Having a barbecue and just spending some time together sharing memories."

From the Boston Herald

Related Link:
Alun R. Howells dies 'of wounds suffered from enemy direct fire'