Carbondale retiree sponsors students’ trip to National WWII Museum and Bayeux, France

Members of Bushong's journey in France. From left to right: Monte Musselman, Christian Bravo, Amanda Madden, Jane Taylor, Liza Logan, John Rawley, Winslow Proctor. Center: Sawyer Patrick.
Paul Bushong/Courtesy

In the heart of Carbondale, retired oil worker Paul Bushong is steadily making an impact on the local youth. 

For over half a decade, his philanthropic efforts have centered on offering scholarships to students at Colorado Mountain College. Yet, this year marked a shift in his contributions as he took his support beyond the college campus.

With the collaborative effort of the Aspen Community Foundation, Bushong footed the bill for 17 high school sophomores and juniors to embark on a memorable journey to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and a visit to Bayeux, France. To manage the group effectively, the students were divided into two batches with trips scheduled in June and July.

The trip, however, came with a condition. Upon their return, students were tasked with penning essays that captured the essence of their experiences and the historical insights gleaned during the visit.

“These kids, they get an experience that will last the rest of their life,” Bushong said.
“This is (an opportunity) that I really like because I get a lot of feedback.”

Roaring Fork, Glenwood Springs, Coal Ridge and Basalt high school students stand in front of a WWII statue in Normandy, France. Front row, from left, Shaylis Moonga, Karol Ramos Pazarro, Danielle Palmer, Kylie Rodriguez, Isabel Mischke; back row, from left, Owen Lambert, Zaida Leslie, Ryan Palmer, William Wherry.
Paul Bushong/Courtesy

Jane Taylor, a Roaring Fork student who partook in the trip, touched on the vastness of the war’s impact. 

“From the very first step into the World War II Museum in New Orleans with my Normand Academy peers, I felt the magnitude of this war and its effects.” Taylor said.  “I also enjoyed seeing other allied efforts that produced outstanding military feats.”

Taylor also said she saw many impressive U.S. war efforts in France.

“Among all of these, the Angoville-Au-Plain Church stood out to me the most,” she said. “In the small village Angoville-au-Plain, a battle broke out between the US 101st Airborne Division and German defenses. Two US Army medics, Robert Wright and Kenneth Moore, converted the church into an aid station for American soldiers, French civilians, and even German soldiers.”

Amanda Madden also shared her personal reflections.

“The experiences I had made me understand and be appreciate every sacrifice that these heroes made for us,” Madden said.

Glenwood Springs student Danielle Palmer said she was eager to learn with her peers about the invasion of Normandy while visiting Bayeux, France.

Visiting each of the five beaches involved in the D-Day invasion made it hard to believe that something that appeared so peaceful held such a violent past,” she said. “The first beach we saw was Gold Beach to see the Kieffer Monument which had beautiful plants and flowers leading up, then we explored Juno Beach that was invaded by the Canadians, and the temporary harbor at Gold Beach.”

Liza Logan, another participant, emphasized the broader educational impact of the trip. 

“This was a transformative experience that allowed me to see the importance of studying history, specifically WWII and D-Day,” Logan said. “Thank you for allowing me to have this life changing experience. I have met some amazing kids and have explored a new pocket of the world.”

Through these trips and the reflections they prompt, it’s clear that Bushong’s mission is to ensure that the significance of history, especially events like WWII, are deeply appreciated by the next generation.

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