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SACRAMENTO NWR:Refuge Connects Those Who Served at Midway Atoll
California-Nevada Offices , November 29, 2008
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Barry Christensen (left) and George Reese hold a 1943 Life Magazine illustration of life on Midway. (photo: USFWS)
Barry Christensen (left) and George Reese hold a 1943 Life Magazine illustration of life on Midway. (photo: USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Greg Mensik, Deputy Refuge Manager
Visitors to Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) on Saturday, Nov.28, 2008, were in for a real treat.  In addition to the regularly scheduled Visitor Center, bookstore and auto tour opportunities, the Visitor Services Program staff featured a special presentation on Midway Atoll NWR by former Refuge Manager Barry Christenson.  Barry has recently become the Refuge Operations Chief for Region 8, in Sacramento, Calif., and his close proximity made for an excellent opportunity to ask him to share his refuge experiences from the South Pacific.  He certainly did not disappoint, as his colorful wildlife and habitat images, detailed accountings and wildlife observations made for a very entertaining show!

 

However, Barry’s presentation was not our only treat that day.  In attendance was Mr. George Reece, a U.S. Navy veteran who served on Midway during World War II, when it was primarily a submarine base.  It turns out that Mr. Reece, who now lives nearby in Chico, Calif.; was stationed on Midway from May 1943 through February 1944.  During that time, his responsibilities included being an ambulance driver, assisting in a “crash boat,” flying in a PBY (patrol bomber) on submarine patrol, working in the morgue and helping in the first aide station.  It was fascinating for everyone in the audience to hear George recount his experiences, interact with Barry, describe the underground hospital and have its location (and that of the former/military airstrip) pointed out.  It was literally one of those “living history” moments that was not planned, but made all the more special by the spontaneity.

 

Refuge outreach efforts are always a bit of an unknown.  Sometimes you just have to take satisfaction in the preparation to make the opportunity available, and then hope for the best.  In this case, we could not be more proud of all those involved in the outcome!

 


Contact Info: Jennifer Stockton, 530-934-2801 x15, jennifer_stockton@fws.gov



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