Carson school honors fallen warrior
August 12, 2010
FORT CARSON, Colo. - The legacy of a local boy who put others first, graduated from West Point and was killed in combat in 2006 continued Aug. 9 as Fountain-Fort Carson School District Eight officially dedicated its newest elementary school.
The emotional dedication ceremony featured Capt. Ian Weikel's high school teacher and coach, and the brigade commander he served under while in Iraq, attesting to his character and leadership. The event concluded as Weikel's 4-year-old son, Jonathon, beamed with pride as he jumped up and down on the cafetorium stage after cutting the ceremonial ribbon to a rousing ovation from the standing room only crowd.
District Eight Superintendent Cheryl Serrano noted it was not the typical school ribbon-cutting ceremony, attended by school staff, members of the school board and few others.
"We all know why this one is special, it is because who the building is named after," she said. "We're very excited about what this building means to the community, to our school district, to the Army."
She said the board of education hadn't made a decision to name a school after an individual in more than 20 years.
"It is easier sometimes to just name it after a mountain or an eagle ... but this was the right thing to do."
Located at 6565 Lindstrom Street, west of the post exchange, Weikel Elementary held its first day of classes Thursday with a staff of 57 and about 400 students.
Mike Maiurro, who taught Weikel's leadership class at Fountain-Fort Carson High School and coached him in football, basketball and baseball, summed up his former student and player in four words: service, excellence, achievement and leadership.
He said having the school named in honor of Weikel is a tribute to his family, the community that raised him and a tribute to the school district as a whole.
"But the military took him that next step, we had a young boy ... and they created a man," Maiurro said.
He said Weikel would be "a little bit angry about all this fuss that has gone on today because he was one who never drew attention to himself."
Maiurro noted whenever they received any recognition, Weikel would have 20 students standing with him and he would move to the back row.
He also lauded Weikel for having the vision and being able to not only identify issues, but come up with solutions. As a freshman, Weikel met with the school board to discuss his recommended list of changes. Eight of the nine issues - to include developing an alternative school and a place for teenage parents to continue their education - are in place today, Maiurro said.
He also said many of the projects he teaches in his leadership class today were initiated by Weikel.
"I feel like I'm just running a relay race and it's my turn to carry that torch," he said.
Weikel's brigade commander in Iraq said April 18, 2006, the day Weikel was killed, was the worst day of his life.
Citing he read that every combat leader has one person that sticks with them, Brig. Gen. James Pasquarette, deputy commanding general for support, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, said, "For me, it's Ian Weikel. I think about him almost every day."
He recalled completing an officer efficiency report while on the plane to Iraq in December 2005, where he stated Weikel, who was the commander of G Troop, 7th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was his No. 1 of 31 company commanders in the brigade.
"He always had a positive outlook and he made me feel better as a brigade commander," Pasquarette said. "I knew if the world was going to hell, I had a troop commander that could look at things in a positive outlook and keep the benefit of his Soldiers first."
The general said Weikel was full of potential, someone he could see quickly progressing the Army ranks. He commended Weikel's strength of character, noting he always did the right thing. He was morally and ethically grounded which allowed him to operate confidently in a complex environment such as Iraq.
"He was always looking out for his Soldiers, leading from the front and ... he did everything he asked his Soldiers to do," Pasquarette said.
"Ian was the best that the nation had to offer, not just the Army, but the whole nation had to offer," he said. "I challenge the teachers to tell the story of Ian Weikel ... (to tell the students) how lucky they are to be in a school named after such a great American."
The day was bittersweet for Ian's father, Dave Weikel.
"The first time we walked through school was a feeling of wow what a beautiful school and why do I even want to be here," he said. "You get to point where you realize it's a real honor, it's a beautiful school in his name."
Weikel said he experienced a lot of pride and emotion during the ceremony.
"It's beautiful," he said of the joy to hear what a commanding officer and coach had to say about his son and to know the school is going to have a lot of purpose. "This honor, this feels like it honored the 4th (Inf. Div.), Fort Carson, the Army and ultimately all of the military. We are truly thankful to be a part of it."
Weikel recalled the day his son received his West Point acceptance letter.
"It was like an explosion went off in his room," he said.
Weikel Elementary is one of eight elementary schools in District Eight and the fourth on Fort Carson. The 104,000 square foot facility has a capacity of 1,000 students, to include 16 preschool classrooms. The $13.5 million facility was funded by District Eight with the assistance of a $3.5 million grant through Colorado's Building Excellent Schools Today program.