VALLEY — Former San Luis Valley resident Mark Young, 54, received a Congressional Tribute for a Lifetime of Exemplary Service & Courage from U.S. Representative Scott Tipton, who read the tribute into the congressional record on April 10 and presented it to Young during a May 1st ceremony.
Congressman Tipton honored Young, a 1981 Alamosa High School graduate and son of Erwin and Lynne Young of Mosca, for 35 years of volunteerism in Colorado and for specific acts of heroism and courage during that time.
Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Young has a long history of service to others. He first became an Emergency Medical Technician 35 years ago.
“His service to others began during the blizzard of 1982 where he spent all night in his truck with his CB radio answering calls to help stranded motorists,” U.S. Representative Tipton read into the congressional record.
Young spent several years as a volunteer EMT in Costilla County, using his knowledge as a paramedic to help his fellow citizens. In addition, he assisted Bob Roybal and Bill Binion in the creation of a volunteer ambulance service.
In the early 1980’s he started flying fixed wing aircraft and by 2001 he was flying helicopters. A large part of his flying was for search and rescue missions.
Young is a REACH helicopter pilot and member of the Civil Air Patrol.
In 1996, Young joined the Montrose County Sheriff Posse as a volunteer search and rescue firefighter. He is a lifetime member of the Montrose County Sheriff’s Posse. Over the next 20 years he provided hundreds of hours of free helicopter service and went on numerous rescue missions, providing vital helicopter support on each of those rescues.
In January of 2017, Young, serving as Incident Commander for the Civil Air Patrol, helped locate and rescue a Colorado Springs couple whose small plane crash landed on a snow-packed cliff in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area in Garfield County. The temperature was 18° below zero. While most plane crashes do not end well, efforts by Young, local law and fire departments and others, resulted in a successful rescue.
“It was an extremely high-risk mission from a lot of standpoints, but it all just played out extremely well,” he said.
This was just one of many rescue and recovery operations over the years. Some of the momentous missions in Montrose County alone included a successful aerial search for a missing 12-year-old, the rescue of a hunter who fell and broke her ribs, the search and eventual recovery of the body of a missing Olathe man and even the humorous memory of setting the chopper down in an open space where he was transporting Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap to help look for a drug suspect, and the field was filled with beehives whose occupants began to invade the chopper. Young quickly lifted off again, with 50 or so bees swarming the aircraft. Fortunately neither he nor the sheriff was stung.
Sheriff Dunlap said Young often provided his helicopter services for free, even providing the fuel himself.
“Over the years he has been a great asset to not only the posse but to the sheriff’s office,” Dunlap said. “He’s always been there when we’ve needed him. If we had to rent an aircraft to do something like that, it would be atrocious, what it would cost. He didn’t charge a thing. That’s just Mark’s nature. I think he genuinely cares about people and will go out of his way to do what he can to keep people safe.”
Young gave credit to regional search and rescue teams, many of whom are volunteers, as well as firefighters, EMT’s and dispatch crews. “We could not do the things we do without these people and their support. They get the calls, and they help someone on the other end of the line. They are not often recognized for what they do, but it is critical.”
Young said he was honored by Congressman Tipton’s recognition of him but said he was able to do his part with lots of help from other volunteers, and he accepted the tribute on behalf of his fellow volunteers.
“Whether it was spending all night on Christmas Eve helping motorists during a blizzard, or flying a helicopter for Search and Rescue missions, Lt. Col. Young has always been eager to serve his fellow Americans,” Tipton read into the congressional record. “It is my pleasure to recognize Lt. Col. Young for all his generosity. On behalf of the Third District of Colorado I would like to thank
Lt. Col. Young for his generous service to his community.”
Tipton added, “What these folks do, putting themselves at risk to help others, is something we all appreciate. And Mark has been so active for such an extended period of time.”
REACH Chief Pilot Mark Cicali added, “Mark is a shining example of the contributions one person can make when he chooses to serve others. We are very proud to have him on our team.”
Young is currently a pilot for REACH Air Medical Services in Willits, California. He returned to Montrose to accept a copy of the text that Tipton read into the congressional record. Afterwards he was on a commercial flight back to California when he heard a call for medical personnel aboard to come to the rear of the plane. He responded to assist a passenger who was experiencing a life threatening medical emergency while the plane diverted to Reno to transport the man to a hospital.
The incident proved the merit of the man who had just been honored by Congressman Tipton.
Young said, “I have learned life truly is an adventure that has no boundaries except those we impose on ourselves. If we focus on living life to the fullest and being kind to others, we need not worry about the destination. It will take care of itself.”
Caption: U.S. Representative Scott Tipton, right, presents a copy to Mark Young, left, of the recognition that he read into the congressional record./Courtesy photo