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Hays man taking reins of detachment




Five children. Twenty years spent living in Hays. Thirty-seven years in the military.

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Five children. Twenty years spent living in Hays. Thirty-seven years in the military.

Come Sunday morning, Col. Gordon D. Kuntz will add another number to the list. He will assume command of the Kansas Army National Guard Medical Detachment for the second time at a 10 a.m. ceremony in Salina.

"I feel very proud and very honored to be able to lead the soldiers and the officers of the medical detachment," Kuntz said. "The medical need is so significant for the National Guard and for overall readiness within the Kansas Guard, making our mission extremely important."

Kuntz, who was active military for nine years before joining the Army National Guard in 1984, also served as commander until the summer of 2010. The current medical commander, Col. John D. Muther, has been stationed in Texas, Kuntz said.

After more than three decades in the military, it's still the desire to serve his country that motivates Kuntz to keep going, he said.

"For me, with the Guard, it's just been the honor and the ability to serve," he said. "That's the most important for me."

Kuntz has been serving as deputy commander. Sunday morning, he will assume the command responsibility for the 85 detachment soldiers. He also will work to ensure Kansas Army National Guard soldiers receive the necessary medical and dental care.

When he initially joined the Army in 1975, Kuntz intended to pursue a career in electronics. After three years, he re-enlisted as a medic and was assigned to Fort Lewis, Wash. He later completed the patient care specialist course and relocated to Fort Riley until leaving active duty in 1984.

Kuntz earned a bachelor's degree from Washburn University and a master of science degree in nursing from Wichita State University. He works as a psychiatric nurse practitioner at High Plains Mental Health Center in Hays.

His military career also has allowed him to see the world -- he has been sent to Japan, the Horn of Africa and El Salvador. He also has visited many states and was deployed to Louisiana in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.

"I've been truly blessed to be able to serve the amount of time that I have served," Kuntz said. "I could only do it with the support of my wife and my family."

His wife, Kara, and their children are proud of his many accomplishments.

"He has a deep sense of service to his country, and it's something that he always has felt compelled to do," Kara Kuntz said. "I am very proud of him, obviously, and his kids have been very supportive of him."

Two of their children even are following in their father's footsteps. Their oldest child also has served in the military and the youngest is in the Army ROTC program at Kansas State University.

The commander post usually lasts a few years, and Kuntz said he plans to keep serving in the National Guard as long as possible.

"I enjoy what I do. I love the opportunity to work with soldiers; I enjoy the camaraderie I get with my fellow officers and medical professional colleagues," he said.

"As long as I keep enjoying it, and as long as they'll have me, I'll continue to serve."