Army Spc. George Raymond Geer of Cortez is one of more than 350 Colorado military service members lost in the global war on terror since Sept. 11, 2001.
Gov. John Hickenlooper dedicated the state capitol’s holiday tree at a lighting ceremony on Friday, Dec. 11 in honor of Gold Star families – survivors of those service members. Colorado National Guard soldiers and their families decorated the 50-year-old, 25-foot subalpine fir, which was harvested in Larimer County.
“Given that 2015 marks the 14th anniversary of our nation at war, Colorado remains committed to honoring those who have made such a great sacrifice, be they soldiers or their families,” said Janelle Darnell, chief of protocol for the Office of The Adjutant General, Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “Colorado has not and will not forget their sacrifice and service on behalf of our community, state and nation.”
A Montezuma County native, classic-car enthusiast and 1995 Dolores High School grad, Geer was killed on Jan. 17, 2005, by a bomb in Iraq while inspecting a suspicious vehicle. He was 27 years old.
“He loved his community, and the people here helped to make him the man that he was,” said his father Harold Geer.
The last time Geer talked to his family, he wanted to hear about the snow in the mountains of Southwest Colorado. He loved to ski, travel, ride horses, hunt elk and race cars and motorcycles.
Geer was born Nov. 22, 1977. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and was based at Camp Ramadi. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
The Colorado State Forest Service selectively cut the Gold Star Tree of Honor as part of ongoing management efforts to improve forest health. This year, the CSFS also harvested a small number of trees for the families of deployed military personnel.
“It is a true honor to be allowed to provide this special tree for our state capitol,” said CSFS director Mike Lester, who is himself from a Gold Star family. “To many of us, it is a symbol of much more than the holiday season.”