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David Gene Conklin


An Army reservist and Montana resident for more than forty years, Dave is a retired park ranger who lives in the Flathead Valley. Conklin was born in Lynwood on November 3, 1948 and raised in South Gate, California. Upon his graduation from High School in 1966, the family moved to Spokane, Washington where his father moved his Atlantic Mattress Company and started Northwest Bedding. Dave loved the outdoors and set his sights on becoming a forest ranger. He graduated from the University of Idaho in 1970 with a B.S. degree in Forestry, and the University of Montana in 1972 with an M.S. in Natural Resources and later an MBA.

He met and married Mary Guerra, in 1969 while in college. Their daughter Dacia was born the next year. In 1972 they moved to Helena, Montana to start his 27-year career in State Parks while Mary worked for the Legislative Council. While working as a Park Ranger they moved to Miles City where their son Christopher was born in 1982. They returned to Helena in 1983 where Dave became Chief of Park Operations, and in 1990 they moved to Kalispell where he retired in 1999 at age 50 and began consulting and writing travel books, until volunteering for military service in Iraq in 2003.

Even though his draft card lottery number was 348 he volunteered for the Reserve Officer Training Command in 1969 during college and was commissioned an officer in the US Army Reserve Corps of Engineers in 1971. He continued to serve for 37 years, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2008. From 1997 to 1999 Conklin served as Deputy Chief of a Military Liaison Team (MLT) to the Bulgarian armed forces for the United States European Command. Previous assignments include: Plans, Operations & Military Support Officer, and Regimental Engineer for the 163d Armored Cavalry, Montana Army National Guard (ARNG). In 1989 Conklin served as a National Guard Exchange Officer to the Federal Republic of Germany.

After twenty-eight years as a commissioned officer Conklin re-enlisted as an Army Staff Sergeant. He was Chief of the Broadcast Section of the 111th Press Camp from 1999 to 2003. In 2004 he volunteered for mobilization to Iraq in 2004 with the 350th Civil Affairs Command in Baghdad during the Iraq War. After returning from Iraq in 2004 Dave was recruited by Tapestry Solutions, a logistics information technology company and spent the next 10 years as a military contractor training Soldiers, Marines and security contractors in Iraq, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Australia, and the U.S., moving with Mary to Hawaii for 7 years and to Camp Pendleton, California for 2 years before retiring for a third time at age 65. Dave and Mary then bought a winter home and moved to Sun City, AZ where he was active in hiking, travel, and other clubs.

He is a graduate of the Engineer Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, and the Defense Information School. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendation Medals, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals, and the Combat Action Badge as well as numerous others. In his last civilian occupation before retiring Conklin was a field support engineer in Iraq and later the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia for Tapestry Solutions, a U.S. Department of Defense contractor and computer software manufacturer.

Although he was raised in metropolitan Los Angeles, family camping trips in the Sierras led Dave to become an avid outdoorsman, horseman, gardener, sportsman, living history buff, surfer, skier and sled dog racer. The family home in Montana always included a couple of horses, a team of Siberian Huskies, and a dozen chickens or rabbits as well as a large garden full of raspberries and strawberries.

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