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Monday, September 14, 2009

Tom “Boomer” Bemis Retires After 30
Years At CAVE

Paula Bauer

August 3, 2009, is Tom “Boomer” Bemis’ last day working for the NPS at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Boomer started in July 1979 working in Interpretation; then moved to Facility Management, and finally Resource Stewardship and Science as a Cave Resource Technician. Boomer has had a hand in many projects over the years, from maintaining the radio systems to replacing and testing various cave lights to participating in the annual winter bird counts. During his time at the park, Boomer has some had hair-raising experiences, such as witnessing park employees, visitors, and the underground lunchroom taken hostage by gunmen, and when he and a fellow employee did “white water rafting” down Walnut Canyon in a flood.

Still, Bemis is perhaps best known in the park and the state as a Search and Rescue Coordinator.

Boomer is a native of Carlsbad, New Mexico and has long been involved with vertical caving, which requires ready skills with rope rigging and climbing. Eventually, he began sharing his skills and knowledge by teaching others how to safely be on rope and became involved in search and rescue after “saving” a friend whose hair got caught in his rappel device. Boomer has taught scores of people everything about ropes from basic knots to methods of rigging multiple pulley systems for high-angle rescues. Without a day of rest, Boomer will start his new job as an adjunct instructor of search and rescue at the Permian Basin Regional Training Center in Carlsbad. Although he will be missed on a day to day basis, he assures us that he’ll be back in the park to help with ongoing cave restoration projects and sharing his expertise on cave lighting as the park plans to upgrade all the electrical in Carlsbad Cavern in the coming years.

On-line source for this article is

Also at this site is Paula Bauer's pix of Tom.

Also unrelated to Tom's retirement story in this Canyons and Caves issue, but well worth looking at is the picture that Tom took of the "canary" formation in the Canary Room

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