The War Horse


A few smiles crept out from everyone sitting around us, accompanied by a laugh or two, then an awkward pause. His mother looked down at the table for a moment and then raised her head; our eyes met. We sat in silence for what felt like minutes. “What did you all see over there that would make him do something like this?” she asked. I bowed my head and stared down at the table. I didn’t have a response.


​The screams and machine guns are roaring. My heart rate is skyrocketing. My friends are dying. And I can't save them. Others try hard to help by providing aid or returning fire while I fail to engage. Useless.
I chamber another round. Misfire. Misfire. Misfire. Marines continue to die. The screams turn to cries. The ground turns from a dusty brown to a damp crimson.

The West Yellowstone Star
Mental health: Nature of town can foster depression, anxiety

Small communities like West Yellowstone are absent the problems of most major cities – everyone knows everyone and walking around at night is generally safe. It poses a series of problems to residents that cities do not have though, and those stem from the seasonal nature of the town and its remote location.
Many people may be unaware, but much of West Yellowstone’s population struggles with mental health issues. Unfortunately, rural communities like West Yellowstone do not have the resources cities like Bozeman have to help those in need. When someone in town needs help, their first stop, typically, is Kathi Arnado, the director of job and social services.

Floatplanes grounded: Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denies permit

​On Thursday, July 22, the Gallatin County Planning and Zoning Commission hosted a public meeting at a West Yellowstone hotel about a proposed conditional use permit to operate a commercial floatplane business from a Hebgen Lake marina.
The meeting lasted nearly seven hours – 38 people signed up for the public comment period with 36 opposing the proposed permit – and at the conclusion of the meeting, the seven-member commission unanimously denied the request.

Expedition Yellowstone: A rite of passage for West Yellowstone youth

​​Last Monday morning, April 24, 17 sixth-grade students packed into several trucks and SUVs at the West Yellowstone School and made their way to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch – located near the northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park and about a two hour drive from town. The students were participating in Expedition Yellowstone – a program through YNP and the National Park Service. The program lasted five days and four nights, and for a handful of students, this was not only their first time away from home or their first time camping, but their first time in the park.

​A fishing mecca

West Yellowstone sits in the middle of some of the best fly fishing in the country. Rivers like the Madison and the Gallatin are plentiful with trout and can be fished year round. A combination of environmental factors, accompanied by a wide-spread practice of catch and release, make this particular part of Montana a fly fishing mecca.

Breaking ground: Council waives conflict of interest, learning center construction underway

“A councilman generally cannot have an interest, either directly or indirectly, in any contracts with the town; however, there is a provision in the statute, which is called the control of conflict of interest, that allows this process to go forward,” said Jane Mersen, West Yellowstone’s town attorney, at a public hearing and special town council meeting last Friday, Oct. 13. “If the council does not waive the conflict, the Westmart proposal could not be considered during the next agenda item.”

Bob Jacklin: 48 years of tying flies and teaching fishing

​​Bob Jacklin first visited Yellowstone National Park at the ripe age of 22. It was July of 1967 – a few short days before arriving in the park, he received his discharge papers from the United States Army. He bumped into a gentleman by the name of Ed Mueller at the Madison Junction campground and the two spent the next few days fishing and chatting. Jacklin was unaware there was a town just 14 miles west, and Mueller toted young Jacklin into West Yellowstone for the first time. He was introduced to Bud Lilly, a local angler and shop owner. He did not know it in the summer of 1967, but Jacklin was going to spend the rest of his life in West Yellowstone as an avid fly fisherman.

Parachuting into wildfires: Smokejumpers battle flames across United States

​Bobby Sutton had his first jump in 1991 with the West Yellowstone smokejumpers. He already had four years of firefighting experience – a common trait for smokejumpers – but he had never jumped out of a plane. His heart was not beating all that fast, no sweaty palms or accelerated breathing – he was cool as a cucumber. Sutton explained that after the five-week training course to become a smokejumper, he was not all that worried. Last Thursday, June 15, was Sutton’s last jump – somewhere over 400, he said.

​Additional Writing

​​​​​​​​​​​The Blood of Patriots
I told him about the first guy that I lost, how he had everything above his jaw-line taken off with an RKG grenade. This is essentially a small parachute-stabilized grenade, that when detonated becomes a shape charge, forcing molten copper and tungsten through an area no more than half an inch in diameter, to tear through the Humvee and through the back of my buddy’s head. Skull fragments splintered off and became shrapnel that wounded the other four Marine passengers.  We both sit in what others might consider to be an awkward silence. We sit, drinking our beer, looking into the glass as we fiddle them around with our hands, reliving these events over and over again in our minds. Sometimes it is best to just say nothing.