The events that exposed me to the true culture of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) began in 1994. At that time, the Acting Director of the USFWS sent the International Midway Memorial Foundation (IMMF) a letter opposing Midway's designation as a National Historic Landmark. Two years later (1996), a warning was required from Senator Jesse Helms to USFWS to prevent the agency from demolishing 31 historic structures, including the historic cable buildings and seaplane hangar; more recently, the USFWS has seen fit to cease all termite treatments, leaving the wooden historical structures on Midway subject to termite infestation and destruction.
The saga continues. The bill to designate the Midway Atoll a National Memorial labored in Congress for 5 years due to USFWS opposition. Finally, in 1999, then-Secretary of Interior, Bruce Babbitt, directed the USFWS to establish a National Midway Memorial Planning Committee within one year. Nearly two and one-half years later this Committee had not been formed.
In April 2003 the Committee was to hold its first meeting by telephone conference call. To date, this Committee is in disarray and non-functional.
Midway Atoll continues to be closed to PUBLIC ACCESS. The reason given by the Service is lack of funding. Yet when a sound fiscal proposal was presented to the Department of Interior (DOI) to operate Midway at minimal taxpayer expense it was rejected. Midway will continue to be closed to the public for the foreseeable future. Only Congessional action can restore visitation rights to the public by removing the USFWS' jurisdiction over the Midway Atoll. This is your federal agency (USFWS) that has jurisdiction over the National Midway Memorial! H.R. 924 and S. 1574 in Congress direct the DOI to replace USFWS with another federal agency within the DOI. Support these bills by writing to your Congressman.
But the story does not end here. The dispute over Midway goes much deeper than Midway itself. The USFWS views Midway only as a Wildlife Refuge. The Midway National Memorial is mentioned only as an after-thought. Since the enactment of Midway as a National Memorial in 1999, there is not as yet the smallest sign on the Atoll denoting this important designation. This is no accident. USFWS has demonstrated its indifference and disdain for what happened there on June 4, 1942 and for the men that fought and died on that fateful day. This culture and viewpoint has profound present day implications. The extremism exhibited on Midway by the USFWS is a reflection of how that agency is endangering our national security.
In a message to its members, the National President of the Navy League reported that there is a grievous imbalance between our need to protect the environment and our national security. Admiral Walter F. Duran, USN, Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, was quoted as saying last July that "in this time of war, vital Navy training is being delayed, curtailed and cancelled" partly because regulatory agencies are invoking the "precautionary principle" that defense organizations accused of environmental misdeeds are guilty until proven innocent.
Cases in point:
The culture of the USFWS is so blantly expressed at Midway--where this agency boldly proclaims its indifference to the memory of the Battle of Midway--to the shores of California where this same agency endangers national security without even an afterthought. I REPEAT: This (USFWS) is your federal agency that has jurisdiction over the National Midway Memorial.
On September 2, 2003, Richard G. Lugar, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced S. 1574. This bill directs the Secretary of Interior to replace the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as the Federal agency responsible for the administration, protection and preservation of the Midway Atoll within 90 days after the enactment of this Act, and for other purposes. Send letters of support for this legislation to: The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 306 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510.
Dr. William S. Dudley, Director of the Naval Historical Center, fully supports S. 1574 which directs the Secretary of Interior to replace the USFWS' jurisdiction over Midway Atoll with another agency within the Department of Interior (see enclosed letter to the International Midway Memorial Foundation [IMMF] ).
In 1979, the USFWS designated a barberry shrub on a 240 yard private tract along the Truckee River, just north of Lake Tahoe Nevada, an endangered species. Twenty-three years later, plant specialists have discovered the evergreen shrub growing widely from Southern California into Canada and east to the Great Plains. The barberry subsequently has been removed from the list of endangered species.
A Colorado-based legal group is threatening to sue the Department of Interior (DOI) because of a decision made by the USFWS to designate 31,000 acres of land in Colorado and Wyoming as a critical habitat for the jumping mouse in 1998. The legal firm's position is that the decision by the USFWS was not based on the best scientific or commercial data available. An advocate with the Defenders of Wildlife was quoted as saying "These kind of cases get thrown out of courts by judges."
In a letter to Senator Akaka, the DOI and the USFWS accused me of having declined an offer from Secretary of Interior Gale Norton to serve on the Battle of Midway National Memorial Planning Committee.
For the Record:
I received a letter dated January 18, 2002 from Secretary Gale Norton inviting me to be on the Committee through 2003 (enclosed in this issue) which I accepted. The USFWS had actually been directed by Secretary Bruce Babbitt to have this Committee formed 18 months earlier.
Beginning in June 2001 and through April 2002, the USFWS refused to discuss a dedication ceremony on Midway Atoll for the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. This refusal, and the fact that the Planning Committee meetings---already delayed 18 months---were relegated to last-minute telephone conference calls,---led me to resign. It was again apparent to me that the USFWS had total indifference toward the Midway National Memorial and the memory of the Battle of Midway. In my letter of resignation (enclosed in this issue) I offered my services as an advisor to Judge Manson. That offer was neither accepted nor utilized.
Last year, a pilot study for the Battle of Midway Essay Contest was conducted in Montgomery County, Maryland for eighth graders. This year the contest will be conducted in Knoxville, Tennessee. The scope of the essay has been broadened to encompass "The Global Significance of the Battle of Midway and its Effects on the Geo-Political Composition of the Post World War II Era." Eligible contestants now include only high school students. A meeting will be held in Knoxville on November 21, 2003 to finalize contest details, and will include members of the IMMF; Lisa Oakley of the East Tennessee Historical Society; Dr. Kurt Tiehler, Department of History, University of Tennessee; and a staff member from Congressman Duncan's office in Knoxville. The winning essay will be published in the Association of Naval Aviation's "Wings of Gold" in the summer of 2004.
On June 4, 1942, then-2nd Lieutenant Clayton M. Canfield, USMC was in the Fifth Division of VMF-221 which was stationed on Eastern Island of the Midway Atoll. He was accompanied by Captain Marion E. Carl and Captain John F. Carey as their F4F-3 scrambled to meet the oncoming 108 Japanese carrier planes approaching Midway that early Thursday morning. Of the 26 U.S. Marine fighters that vectored out that morning only 2 Marine fighters were operational after the engagement.
It is a sad day when a Midway veteran such as Clayton Canfield dies. It is an even sadder day for this country when an agency (USFWS) of the federal government can manipulate the political system to deprive the veterans of the Battle of Midway their proper respect and recognition both by ignoring the will of Congress, and in taking an active role in destroying the historic sites of one of the most significant battles in American history. That history rightfully belongs to all Americans for generations to come.
Midway veterans will continue to pass away. For those Midway veterans that are still alive, let's continue to give our very best effort to save Midway Atoll from a federal agency (USFWS) that cares little for what these men did on that fateful day--June 4, 1942.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED: Since our wedding on June 21, 2003, Chris and I continue to be on our honeymoon!! (Even though we're working hard too...)
Stay tuned and don't touch that dial!!