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A Call to Serve

February 1, 2019

A strong work ethic, resiliency and an expectation of accountability. Powerful life lessons that Granger Amthor ’97 and Jeremy McLean ‘97 developed at The College of Idaho and use every day in the Idaho Army National Guard.

The learning still continues for these biology majors. Only now, Lt. Col. Granger Amthor is the facilities commander overseeing army aircraft and facilities at Gowen Field in Boise. And Lt. Col. Jeremy McLean is a nuclear medical science officer for the 101st Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team.

Co-Presidents Doug Brigham, Jim Everett and several staff members of The College of Idaho recently visited Gowen Field to speak with the two alumni and tour the army base.  See highlights of the visit and hear from Amthor and McLean here.

Both Amthor and McLean did not envision this field of work when they were at the College. For McLean, his position didn’t even exist.

It was around 1999 when the idea developed to implement these homeland security teams for weapons of mass destruction. And the program ramped up after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“You never know when those opportunities are going to be presented to you, but everything at the College prepped me to be able to step in and take the role,” McLean said.

McLean runs a mobile analytical laboratory that arrives on scene to assist first responders when there is a report of a potential hazardous incident. His analysis is used for decisions that are implemented toward public health. “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have something new to learn, some piece of knowledge to apply, and that’s rewarding, extremely rewarding,” McLean said.

Both men love serving their local community. McLean works closely with civilian agencies. Amthor has worked with the state helping facilitate rescue missions.

“I smile every time I come to work,” Amthor said. Some of the most rewarding aspects for Amthor are his ties to the community and his work in search and rescue. The majority of rescue missions in the state are with assets he oversees at Gowen Field.

“When you find a person in dire need of help and you’re able to facilitate their rescue, I can’t imagine anything greater than that,” Amthor said.

While at The College of Idaho, Amthor learned resiliency; the ability to adapt in the face of adversity is significant in the military.

Amthor was a battalion commander who served multiple tours of duty. His most memorable moment happened while deployed in Afghanistan. At the time, he was commanding an attack company of Apache helicopters. A rescue operation was underway to retrieve marines who were pinned down and sustaining casualties. “We went in to help facilitate their extraction and move the soldiers to safety,” Amthor said.

The enemy was suppressed and all U.S. and Afghani personnel were rescued without further loss. In recognition of their bravery and heroic actions, Company B, 1st Battalion, 183rd Aviation Army National Guard unit received a Congressional Record in 2007 from Sen. Mike Crapo.

“It’s a testament not only to Idahoans but individuals willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater purpose or help other people in need,” Amthor said.

Amthor and McLean both credit their College of Idaho instruction and experience with preparing them for the unknowns of their career paths. “The education we received was top-notch, in-depth and very thorough that went on to directly apply to my education in the military and beyond,” McLean said. 

The College of Idaho has a 128-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit