Lt. Col. Erik Knutsen stands with his sister, Felila, at her son's football game in Orem, Utah. Knutsen is the featured speaker at the Veterans' Day Assembly in Firth. The assembly begins at 10 a.m. on Monday in the Firth High School gymnasium. All are welcome.
This is the 20th year Firth High School has hosted a Veterans' Day assembly. The event is open to the public.
Veterans and their families are special guests.
The assembly begins at 10 a.m. Monday in the Firth High School gymnasium, 101 N. Park Ave. Prelude music performed by the Community Orchestra at Firth begins at 9:30 a.m. Members of the student organizations Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) and the Key Club have planned a meal for the veterans and their families following the assembly.
Honoring veterans and their work is a passion of Firth High School military history teacher Stewart Portela.
"This is our way of honoring the heroes who have given us our freedoms so that we can exercise our liberties," said Portela.
Lt. Col. Erik Knutsen is the featured speaker.
Raised in Malad, Knutsen served in the Idaho Army National Guard from 1987-2009.
He served in the 1-148th Field Artillery headquartered in Pocatello. He also served in various units in Preston, Pocatello, Blackfoot and Rexburg.
"Besides my religion and marrying my wife, joining the military is one of the top three choices I made in my life," said Knutsen. "It's been a really good career."
One highlight of his career was commanding the battery at Blackfoot.
"Every officer looks forward to command," Knutsen said. "I was the battery commander in Blackfoot just shy of six years.
"When my battery deployed to Iraq, we took our big guns," he said. "I remained the battery commander.
"I took 132 men over and brought them all back," Knutsen said. "I'm looking forward to speaking in Firth because five or six of the guys that went over to Iraq with me live in that area.
"Since I made lieutenant colonel, I can stay in until 2020 unless I'm riffed out," he said.
Knutsen currently is in the Army Reserve serving as an instructor for Command and General Staff Officer College (CGSOC) in Orem, Utah.
During the past 27 years, Knutsen has served in Korea, Hawaii, 11 states, Jordan, Kuwait and Iraq.
Knutsen and his wife, Wendi, have two childrenâ€”a 14-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son.