RAYVILLE, La. – “Always Ready, Always There,” is more than just the National Guard’s motto; these words are also ingrained into the spirits of its members. Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) Northeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery (NELVC) Heavy Equipment Operator Christopher Colvin exemplifies these words both when in and out of uniform.
Born on Dec. 21, 1977 in Monroe, La., Colvin is accustomed to this line of work. “I grew up working on tractors and equipment, so this field of work is a natural fit for me.”
Colvin enlisted in the Louisiana National Guard (LANG) on June 27, 1995 because he felt the Guard would afford him the opportunity to achieve his goal of obtaining a college education.
He attended basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, which is a U.S. Army training installation located in the Missouri Ozarks. His military occupational specialty is heavy construction equipment operator and he learned to use bulldozers, cranes, graders, and other heavy equipment to help complete airfield, road, dam, and building projects.
Colvin was placed on activate-duty on Sept. 11, 2001 for Operation Noble Eagle as an extra security force at Camp Beauraguard, Camp Cook and Esler Field.
In 2003, he started working for Louisiana State Military Department at Camp Minden as Facility Engineer until Feb. 2004 when he was activated for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Colvin deployed to the Koust Province in Afghanistan on Forward Operations Base Selerno until April 2005. “Following that tour I went to work as an instructor at the Youth Challenge Program until 2009 when I was accepted as an Instructor at Camp Cook for The Basic Leadership Course,” says Colvin who saw this position as an opportunity to train tomorrow’s leaders.
In 2013, Colvin was transferred to the 199th Training Regiment as an Engineer Senior Instructor, which is his current LANG unit.
Colvin has a slew of training schools under his belt, including Heavy Equipment Operator,
Diesel Mechanic, Carpentry and Masonry, Primary Leadership Development Course, Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Advanced Non-Commissioned Officer Course, Small Group Leader Course, and Cadre Primary Instructor Course.
He has been activated to support the state of Louisiana for Hurricanes Lilly, Issac, and Katrina, during the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, and during Baton Rouge flood of 2017.
For his efforts and continued dedication to both his state and country, Colvin has been awarded the Combat Training Badge – Afghanistan, Louisiana War Cross, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, and Coast Guard Special Operations Medal for Deep Water Horizon.
Colvin began working as a heavy equipment operator at the NELVC in March of 2016. “Chris is a leader with a love for his unit, his fellow soldiers and their families. He has a great understanding of his field and the work he does with us. We are happy to have him on our team,” says NELVC Administrator Tim Johnson.
His duties at LDVA’s NELVC include operation and maintenance of all heavy equipment, digging and maintaining of interment sites and addressing any horticultural needs.
“For me, it is an honor to be able to take care of my brothers and sisters-in-arms when they reach their final resting place,” says Colvin. “Our veterans and their families deserve the best during the time of their greatest need and I’m happy to be a part of that.”
Colvin’s selflessness extends beyond his military and civilian careers, as he is also a devoted community volunteer. “I also volunteer with several veteran’s groups including the local Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Our HOME.