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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fred Armstrong at CAVE, 07/21/85 until 11/18/89

Fred R. Armstrong

7/85 - 11/89--Carlsbad Caverns tenure

(from Enployee Reunion, 1998)

As an 11-year old visiting the Caverns on a family vacation in 1967, I never dreamed that some day I would be a park ranger caring for and sharing the beauties of the deep with visitors.  As an interpretive park ranger one of my favorite challenges was to learn as much about the cave as possible so that no matter where I was along the trail, I would be able to share some knowledge about a particular formation, fossil, or fantastic tale about cave exploration with visitors.  This desire to learn and share soon found me coaching other park rangers while in the role of assistant crew supervisor for the last 3½ years of my Caverns tenure.

Some of the most memorable times at the Caverns stemmed from the need to help others.  One of my collateral duties was that of park emergency medical services coordinator.  During this time we upgraded the first aid response and training for cave rangers and added several EMTs to the ranks.  Carryouts of overexerted or injured visitors unfortunately seemed to be common- place in the summer months and some incidents still stick out in my mind, like the time when the visitor had a heart attack in the auditorium and Jeff Denny and I performed CPR for close to 2 hours.  Or the man who broke his neck when he fell into a pit while taking a picture near the Whale’s Tail in the Big Room.  I felt so sorry for him and visited him in the hospital for a couple of days after the accident because he was traveling alone and was unable to be moved home until the injuries had stabilized.  Everyone always pitched in during an emergency or carryout.

There are too many great memories to recall in this short amount of space; observing and documenting Ron Kerbo, Jim Goodbar, and Michael Queen on their discovery climb into the Spirit World area; being one of the first employees to observe the delicate, undisturbed beauty beyond the culvert tunnel in Lechuguilla Cave to plan for any potential rescue that may be needed as mappers prepared to go to the bottom of Boulder Falls and beyond (and a rescue did become a reality in a few years); getting in voice with fellow rangers to conduct Rock of Ages ceremony reenactments; or never ceasing to be amazed at an evening sky full of bat wings.

The allure of new challenges took me from Carlsbad Caverns to the Chief Ranger position at Knife River Indian Villages, but the attraction of the Chihuahuan Desert brought me back to Guadalupe Mountains National Park as the Resource Management Specialist.  Today, each drive up Walnut Canyon or walk through the Caverns reminds me of many special people in our national park family and makes me realize I’m better for having worked with them.  I hope they can say the same. 1.

Guadalupe Mountains NP                            11/22/92 to Present

Knife River Indian Villages NHS                11/19/89 to 11/21/92

Carlsbad Caverns NP                                   07/21/85 to 11/18/89

Bighorn Canyon NRA                                  05/15/83 to 07/20/85

General Services Administration                11/14/82 to 05/14/83

Golden Gate NRA                                         05/16/82 to 11/13/82

Oregon Caves NM                                        06/07/81 to 09/26/81

Petrified Forest NP                                       06/22/80 to 03/05/81

1. I feel that I am "better" having worked with you, Fred, in the years you served as our assistant crew supervisor. Thanks for all your many contributions to CAVE, to me, and for your friendship. Best of everything for you and your family at Zion NP. Bob Hoff, 10/12/11


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