- Evening, Weekend & Online Programs
- ALUMNI RELATIONS
- GIVING TO LAKELAND
- ABOUT LAKELAND
Lakeland College senior Ryan Kuntze, a veteran of the Iraq war from Manitowoc, was recently honored by the military for the fourth time for serving his country. But this time, it was for service behind a keyboard.
In January, Kuntze, who works as a public affairs journalist in the Air National Guard, was awarded an Air Force Commendation Medal for his contributions to the 128th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs office.
The honor acknowledged his work on authoring a 40-plus-page manual on English grammar, professional writing tips and journalism standards. The manual is actively being used by dozens of military public affairs offices across the country.
Kuntze, who served for eight years in the Air Force, including a six-month deployment to Iraq in 2006, credits what he's learned as a double major in English and writing at Lakeland College, along with his experience as a public affairs journalist, for inspiring him to produce the manual.
He wrote the initial 20 pages, which focus on grammar and journalism standards, in early 2011. He wrote an addendum that offers additional grammar training along with insight into professional writing standards during Lakeland's Christmas break.
The document displays Kuntze's love of working with words, and resulted from suggestions from co-workers who have benefitted from Kuntze's guidance and appreciated his talents.
"A lot of people struggle when it comes to writing," said Kuntze, who writes stories and uploads content to the base's public website. "The addendum is intended to offer guidance to anyone whose primary occupation does not rely on or regularly use the written English language."
News of the award came during a regular Saturday morning meeting of the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee. When the vice wing commander, the second highest ranking officer at the base, entered the room, Kuntze said everyone knew something unusual was happening. Kuntze was asked to step to the front of the room, and he was awarded the commendation.
"He was smiling, so that's usually a good indication that it's not the end of things," Kuntze said. "It was a surprise. It felt good."
Kuntze's three previous achievements were for the duration of his deployment to Iraq and his overall contributions to the Wisconsin Air National Guard and to the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Fla.
After leaving active Air Force duty in 2008, Kuntze settled in Manitowoc and enrolled at Lakeland based on the recommendation of a high school friend who was also in the area and had graduated from Lakeland. He is on track to graduate this May.
Kuntze said Lakeland's writing faculty has influenced his development as a writer and his appreciation for his craft.
"I've enjoyed many classes, but especially the advanced composition course, which has impacted my approach to all my other classes," Kuntze said. "If everyone could take that class, we could do away with a lot of the horrible posts on Twitter and Facebook. Working with Lakeland's faculty has taught me information that is enormously useful to my career and the document I've been able to share."
The native of Cedar River in Michigan's Upper Peninsula said his enthusiasm for writing was fostered and encouraged by his mother. He lists Dean Koontz, Andrew Vachss and R.A. Salvatore as his favorite authors. In addition to his classwork, Kuntze writes 10-20 pages a week, anything from personal essay to short stories to poetry.
The Air Force Commendation Medal was authorized by the Secretary of the Air Force on March 28, 1958, for award to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, while serving in any capacity with the Air Force, have distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement and service.