Established 1885

photo by Kolton Buehler

Kolton Buehler with his platoon in Joint Base San Antonio Lockland.

Buehler chose service at young age and has not looked back

When deciding between pursuing college or the United States Air Force after graduation, there wasn’t even a question in Kolton Buehler’s mind that the best option for him was to choose to serve his country.

“It was a very risky decision though, overall,” Buehler said. “However, I think it was the right decision for me and for my family.”

Buehler enlisted at 17 and began basic training right after high school graduation. He always wanted to be a part of serving the country by fighting for what’s right and for freedom. While Buehler knew that leaving home at an early age would be difficult for someone only 17 years old, he felt it was the only choice for him.

“I always wanted to be in the Air Force since I was a little kid,” Buehler said. “I would see all these people with camo uniforms on and everybody saluting them and praising them. I wanted to be just like them.”

Joining the Air Force at such a young age was a very hard transition for Buehler. Going from being surrounded by his family all the time to being totally on his own was a shock. 

“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life,” Buehler said. “Being away from my brothers and my family was something that I personally took for granted, but at the end of the day, I knew it was for a good cause and I was fighting for both my family and my brothers at the same time with my service.”

Buehler believed that the Air Force was the best fit for him because it would give him a relevant skillset and provide him the chance for a great education as well. 

“I joined the Air Force as a Tactical Air Control Party Specialist,” Buehler said. “I trained in communication under fire with close air support, medevac and artillery. I chose to pursue a special warfare position because I wanted to make true change as a tip of the spear.”

After enlistment, Buehler was sent to San Antonio. As basic training started, he realized that he was feeling homesick.

“It was hard to maintain connections with my family and friends,” Buehler said. “A lot of my friends were in college and forgot I existed. Mentally, that was a change because I wanted to serve to protect those close to me. Family stayed in touch, but it was hard to reach out when my schedule was so jam-packed.”

As basic training progressed, Buehler met a lot of new people and created a lot of close relationships with his friends that have lasted to this day. 

“I made some of the closest friends I’ve ever had,” Buehler said. “In life-or-death situations, you get to know a lot about a person better than you would have just meeting up with them at a bar. I was able to make brothers for life who would drop everything to help me, and I would do the same. We still maintain contact to this day. The relationships we have is unlike those friendships I have outside of the service. It’s a special bond.”

As of now, Buehler is finished with basic training and has moved on to drill. He is now stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, Kansas, where he joins a once-a-month extravaganza training. This training incorporates a lot of the aspects of a real-world situation so that it puts him into a situation where he must make tough decisions as if the United States was at war. 

When not training, Buehler looks forward to catching up with some of his closest friends from back home, such as Gunnar Krull, a classmate from high school and someone who he remains close to even today.

“Seeing Kolton do what he loves is something that truly makes me happy,” Krull said.

 Another of Buehler’s friends from high school, Hunter Hess, said that Buehler’s decision to serve in the Air Force made him think about following his friend’s example and enlisting himself.

“When I first met Kolton, I could tell that he was the type of guy that was kind of a get the job done no matter what, no matter if he risked his life for that,” Hess said. “That is something that I strive for every day; just seeing his grit and determination is something that I look up to.”

Buehler is currently enrolled at Washburn University and still maintains active duty in the Air Force at the same time.

“The relationships I’ve made while serving will last me for a lifetime and I’m proud of that,” Buehler said. Once his enlistment period is up, he plans to graduate from Washburn and transition into civilian life.

Edited by Justin Shepard

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