Nearly 1,400 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees are military veterans, many of whom continue to serve in Reserve and National Guard units across the country. These people who once sacrificed for our country now use their skills in the cause of conservation. We thank each one of our veterans, and honor their service to our nation.
Below, are some pictures and a little bit of information about a few of these men and women. If you're interested in seeing more, check out this flickr slideshow for many more images of our veterans.
Joe Witt, a Course Leader/Wildlife Biologist with the Branch of Conservation Science and Policy at the National Conservation Training Center, served with the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1969 in Vietnam, Cuba (GTMO), California and North Carolina. He rose to Lance Corporal and received a purple heart.
Melissa “Missi” Hatfield spent 20 years in the Air Force as a meteorologist before retiring in 2000. She joined the SFESO as an office automation assistant in 2010.
Addison Mohler, the refuge wildlife biologist for Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on my 17th birthday during the height of Desert Storm. He says:
“I wanted to a be grunt and was guaranteed it, so after boot camp I went to Marine Combat Training and School of Infantry a few miles up the road at Camp Pendleton."
"After graduating, I was sent to the Fleet Marine Force, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines (Get Some!), which is the most decorated unit in the Marine Corps and based in Camp Pendleton at San Mateo. My days were spent shooting (every weapon organic to a Marine), cleaning weapons, running, jumping out of helicopters, shooting some more and running some more."
"I won a competition to put me into a platoon of Marines that followed Seal Team 9 around with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Special Operations Capable in case they needed a reactionary force. Mohler has a great story about dissecting a mouse that had been killed and identifying its parts on an MRE box. My lieutenant told me I should be a biologist. Fast-forward 100 years later...I am."
Denise Jefferson, a Grant and Agreement and Contract Specialist with Region 3, served in the U.S. Army for 10 years on Active Duty, six with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard and four in the Maryland Army Reserve. I retired in 2012 as a Staff Sergeant. My Military specialty was Communications, and Jefferson may be a vanishing breed: She received training as a Morse Code Operator.
Mike Crocker in Region 6 served as a Specialist 5 in the Army during Vietnam.
Vanessa in the Human Resources Office is a U.S. Air Force Reserves retiree. She was on Active Duty from 1977 through 1981 and was assigned to Lackland Air Force Base for basic training, Sheppard Air Force Base for Tech School, Clark AB, Philippines and Altus, Ok. In the reserves from 1985 through 2002, she was stationed out of Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. Her career fields were Dental (17 years) and Laboratory Technicians (4 years). She retired as a Master Sergeant (E7).
Joe Beimfohr, the Bureau Acquisition Career Coordinator, was in the Army from July 1995 to July 2006. He served in Korea and Iraq, and was stationed at Ft. Knox and Ft. Riley. He retired as a Staff Sergeant.
Tiffany Breske, a Contracting Officer in Region 3, served in the Air Force as a Contract Specialist/Contracting Officer from August 2000 to October 2008, with several deployments in Afghanistan.
Jonathan Schafler, the Refuge Manager at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Davis, West Virginia, recently returned from a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq with the U.S. Coast Guard. As a lieutenant for the Coast Guard and an expert in counterterrorism, he led the development and execution of the first Training and Advisory mission supporting the Iraqi Coastal Border Guard. For his meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service to the United States… while in Iraq, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.
He has been in the Coast Guard for 24 years. Jonathan’s professionalism as a refuge manager parallels his military accomplishments. Under Refuge Manager Schafler’s leadership, the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan received this year’s “Outstanding Plan Award,” and Secretary Salazar has recently announced that landscape conservation in the Canaan Valley will be highlighted in the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative Final Report.
Yvadne Robinson, an Administrative Assistant in Fisheries and Habitat Conservation, served in the Air Force from 1981 to 2005 in England, Italy, Germany, Texas, Ohio and Virginia. She attained the rank of Technical Sergeant.