On Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. Here in the Northeast Region, we have many brave veterans who are still serving our nation by protecting and defending America’s wildlife. Below are just a few of their stories.
Cheryl Smith joined the U.S. Air Force in 2008 and spent her first two years of service at Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, Japan. She later transferred to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska, where she met her fiancé Jason. Cheryl says of her time in the military, “It was the best decision I could have ever made.” Cheryl is currently the administrative assistant for the information technology department for the region and a mom to a precious little girl.
Gary Probst started a career in the Air Force in July of 1991 that would lead him to serve in various posts. He began as a medical technician specialist during Operation Desert Storm and he advanced to a position as enlisted accessions flight chief, where he was responsible for all human resource management activities. Currently, Gary is an administrative officer for the Coastal Delaware National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Kristen Dusseault enlisted in the Air National Guard at the young age of 17, transferring to the Army National Guard at 19. She served in the Signal Corps in West Germany as a second lieutenant for three years. Kristen’s 30-year government career serving in the military, the U.S. Postal Service, and currently as an information technology specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided her with life lessons that she continues to draw upon daily.
John Eaton enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973 as a 17-year-old high school student. He served in the 8th Communication Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and later transferred to the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine to guard the “special weapons” compound. John feels honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country as a U.S. Marine, and he now works as a cartographer/data manager for the Service in the northeast.
JeDawn Kennedy joined the U.S. Army in 2000 and spent four years as active duty and six years in the reserves. She was stationed in Hanau, Germany, while on active duty. JeDawn came to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and is now the administrative officer at the Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office in New York.
Nate Bush joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2002, shortly after the events of 9/11. He served as a rifleman in an amphibious infantry company during two tours in Iraq – Fallujah 2004 and Ramadi 2005. In 2008, Nathan joined the Massachusetts Army National Guard as a combat engineer, serving with the 182nd engineer company in Florence, Massachusetts. He is currently working for the Service as a GIS specialist for the National Wildlife Refuge System, based in the Service’s Northeast Regional Office.
Brenda VonPlinsky served as an Arabic linguist in the Regular Army from 1998-2002, primarily with the 101st Air Assault Division at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. During her military service, she divided her time between decoding and translating messages (primarily radio), using direction-finding equipment to locate the source of transmissions, and fixing trucks. Brenda currently works as a financial specialist in the Northeast Region’s budget and finance department.
David Smith started his military career in 1988 with the U.S. Army as a telecommunications center operator. He served in a variety of locations throughout the U.S., as well as three years in Weisbaden, Germany. David also worked as an intelligence analyst and was in the 7th Military Intelligence Detachment, 7th Special Forces Group. He started working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003 and is currently a regional IT security manager for the Northeast Region.
Mike Barrick enlisted in the Air Force in 1982 and spent much of his service stationed at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He was activated five times for Operation Desert Shield/Storm and Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom and spent time deployed overseas after September 11, 2001. Mike achieved the rank of Chief Master Sergeant and retired in 2010, after 28 years of service, as the Westover Aircraft Maintenance Flight Chief. His wife of 28 years, Laura Barrick, is a Human Resources Assistant for the Northeast Region.
Glenn Davis served in the U.S. Air Force as part of the mission crew aboard the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System. This picture was taken in 1999 at the end of Operation Allied Force in Geilenkirchen, Germany, where he supported NATO by providing surveillance, command, control, and communications capability to joint and allied air forces. Glenn is now the regional deputy assistant regional director for budget and administration. He actively serves as a traditional guardsman in the New York Air National Guard in Syracuse, N.Y.
Steve Boska served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 20 years. In 1968, he was stationed at Bien Hoa AB Vietnam, working in the medical field. His final assignment for the Air Force was as chief of administration in the U.S. Air Force Surgeon General’s Office in Washington D.C. Today, Steve is a maintenance mechanic at Potomac National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Virginia. He says of his job with the Service, “I feel there is a purposeful meaning to the job and when I close the shop door at night I have that sense of job satisfaction.”
Robert Meehan enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1972 and spent most of his military career stationed at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina as a medical administrative specialist. One of his duties included being a liaison officer at a large naval hospital. Robert now works in the maintenance division at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia. He says of his job at Chincoteague, “I am pleased to be a part of keeping a terrific resource intact for future generations.”