|"No contact, 11:01."
||[Jan. 10th, 2012|10:33 pm]
Angela, Zolac no Miko
Perhaps you are aware of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, who was shot and killed in the line of duty at Mt. Rainier National Park on January 1st. Iraq veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes had killed several people, and was heading up to the park, heavily armed. When he blew through a roadblock, Ranger Anderson pulled her SUV in front of him, attempting to block him and protect park visitors.
Working as I do with the Park Service, I was privy to a piece of her memorial today. I wasn't expecting it; we were working in Kahuku, the first day of the planting season, and I'd gone to collect more seedlings from the tray, bringing me close to our one radio. Filling my bag with dibble tubes, I was tuning out the radio chatter, until something strange caught my attention.
"Mt. Rainier 741, Dispatch," a woman's voice said.
...Context. Every National Park Service employee has a radio call number; to talk to anyone in the park, you tune in to one of the main repeater channels, identify the party you're trying to reach, then identify yourself (i.e. "Volcano Dispatch, 959."). They respond, and you have your conversation, and everyone can hear you. Sometimes there's bad reception, though, or someone steps away from their radio; if you attempt to hail a party several times and fail to hear a response, you say, "No contact."
So anyway, Dispatch is saying something about Mt. Rainier and I am very confused, because this is Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and I can't figure out why anyone we'd be talking to would have "Mt. Rainier" in their handle. The lady repeats this several times, "Mt. Rainier 741, Dispatch. Mt. Rainier 741, Dispatch..." and I am very confused, and then she says, "No contact, 11:01." There's a pause, and then there's a brief message involving "rest in peace" and "God speed, 741" and so forth, and honoring Ranger Anderson of Mt. Rainier National Park, killed in the line of duty– (oh, I think. Oh.)– thanking her for her service and offering condolences to her family. Instructions were then given for every Park Service employee in uniform to stand, face the east, and salute. A full minute of silence was observed, and then we were thanked and given permission to continue normal radio traffic.
I sat there for a bit, kind of stunned and overwhelmed. It struck me that, for a Park Ranger of the National Park Service, this was a very appropriate memorial, and specifically that hailing her on the radio was deeply tragic and profound. Something about calling for her, calling out into the ether... and receiving no reply. ...I admit that for the next hour or so, every time I thought about it too hard I nearly started crying, which was a bit embarrassing. Luckily I was wearing shades and maintained an average distance of ten meters from my workmates, so no one noticed.
I salute you, Ranger 741. Thank you for your service and heroism.
So it goes.
On a lighter note, I managed to lock myself out of my truck as I was attempting to depart from work. On the one hand, they had to call a Park Ranger to break into my truck for me, and it set me back half an hour, and it was very embarrassing. On the other hand, I've determined that my truck is much harder to break into than most other vehicles; nice! ...On the gripping hand, I came home and regaled my mother with this story, and she blinked at me and said, "Did you not remember the magnetic spare key box hidden in the wheel well?" *facepalm* I AM A FUCKING MORON.
...In other news, today we planted 652 trees. ^_^