Monday, August 30, 2010

Coming Next Week: Carnival of the Blue!

carnival of the blue 40In seven short days, the Saipan Blog will play host to the 40th rendition of Carnival of the Blue. Carnival of the Blue is a rotating monthly compilation of the world's "best of" ocean blogging, bringing together ocean bloggers and readers and (hopefully) using new media to build a virtual community of ocean lovers. The theme for Carnival of the Blue 40 is Top of the Food Chain.

Click HERE to submit your post for next week's carnival. While you wait (hopefully not with bated breath), dig through the Carnival of the Blue archives:

Carnival of the Blue 1 - Blogfish
Carnival of the Blue 2 - Blogfish
Carnival of the Blue 3 - Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets
Carnival of the Blue 4 - The Saipan Blog
Carnival of the Blue 5 - Shifting Baselines
Carnival of the Blue 6 - Cephalopodcast
Carnival of the Blue 7 - The Natural Patriot
Carnival of the Blue 8 - [ I'm a chordata, urochordata! ]
Carnival of the Blue 9 - The Other 95%
Carnival of the Blue 10 - Kate Wing's Blog
Carnival of the Blue 11 - Zooillogix
Carnival of the Blue 12 - The Island of Doubt
Carnival of the Blue 13 - Blogfish
Carnival of the Blue 14 - Deep Sea News
Carnival of the Blue 15 - Sea Notes
Carnival of the Blue 16 - The Saipan Blog
Carnival of the Blue 17 - 10,000 Birds
Carnival of the Blue 18 - Deep Sea News
Carnival of the Blue 19 - Water Notes
Carnival of the Blue 20 - The Biomes Blog
Carnival of the Blue 21 - The Oyster's Garter
Carnival of the Blue 22 - Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets
Carnival of the Blue 23 - Deep Sea News
Carnival of the Blue 24 - Sea Notes
Carnival of the Blue 25 - Blogfish
Carnival of the Blue 26 - Southern Fried Science
Carnival of the Blue 27 - Oh, For the Love of Science!
Carnival of the Blue 28 - The Saipan Blog
Carnival of the Blue 29 - Cephalopodcast
Carnival of the Blue 30 - Oh, for the Love of Science!
Carnival of the Blue 31 - Observations of a Nerd
Carnival of the Blue 32 - Sea Notes
Carnival of the Blue 33 - Deep Sea News
Carnival of the Blue 34 - Southern Fried Science
Carnival of the Blue 35 - Oh, for the Love of Science!
Carnival of the Blue 36 - The Thoughtful Animal
Carnival of the Blue 37 - Blogfish
Carnival of the Blue 38 - Water Words That Work
Carnival of the Blue 39 - Arthropoda

Coming next week: Carnival of the Blue 40!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Drinking the Kool-Aid

There were a lot of people at Saturday's GlennBeckmageddon. We'll probably never know exactly how many actually showed up. Glenn Beck says their were 1/2 million; people who count crowds for a living say there were 78,000. Either way, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are a smaller draw than the Daytona 500.

restoring honorThe last time I visited this end of the Washington Mall was for the We Are One concert last year. The crowd that day stood shoulder to shoulder all the way back to the Washington Monument. Glenn Beck's crowd was only dense in the first 100 meters in front of the stage. How do I know? I walked from the Washington Monument to the front of the stage with no problem.

world war ii monumentThe atmosphere reminded me of a 4th of July picnic with people waiting for the fireworks. This was not a standing room only event. Many people had chairs and blankets.

glenn beck crowdI expected to see lots of crazy people, but surprisingly most of the people were reasonably normal. It wasn't much different from walking around a local WalMart.

Alright, so there were some crazy people. The theme of the rally was restoring honor, so naturally people were protesting the existence of gay people. Pro-gun, anti-tax and anti-choice shirts were popular, but mostly people were waving yellow Don't Tread On Me flags and wearing official Glenn Beck merchandise. A lot of people wanted to Take America Back, of course.

There were an unexpected number of people walking around with Barack Obama t-shirts, mostly taking pictures of Republicans. I overheard one of them comparing Beck to Obama, with Beck being just a little less popular. And those stereotypes of the Tea Party being unemployed angry white people? I forgot to ask if they were angry.

glenn beck rallyI had no problem walking right to the front of the rally; the only point that was a crush to get through was right in front of the stage. I ignored Beck's rantings for the most part, but at one point he kept asking, "What does this mean?"

On the whole I'd say this event was about three steps backwards for America. Restoring Honor insinuates that our president has no honor, a sentiment I find distasteful.

Guess who I saw the other day?

liz footeI saw Liz Foote! She was in town for a day with her Mom and we went out for dinner.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

GlennBeckmageddon

I am blogging live from GlenBeckmageddon, Glenn Beck's so-called Rally for Honor.

The rally is over and now I'm sitting on the Mall across from the American History Museum listening to Dr. King.

Photos to follow when I get home.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Latte Stones Community Awareness


Three years ago this month I participated in a cleanup of the East Obyan Latte Site organized by some students at Northern Marianas College. We cleaned up litter (there wasn't much) and cleared brush away from the immediate area surrounding the latte stones. The students recorded the whole thing and created a video. Earlier this week I uploaded the video to Youtube.

I didn't realize at the time that this video was so good. I've collaborated on several projects with students at NMC and usually I'll watch something once and then move on with my life. After a second look, this video is by far the best product I've seen come from the school. The video is really, really good.

The reason I found this video is I was digging through my files looking for movies to post on Google Ocean. An unusual number of my videos are of people doing shots at Godfathers, but this gem was buried in my hard drive, too. It will be viewable on any computer with the Google Earth program, Android 2.1+ phones, Mission Blue's website and eventually it will be on the Smithsonian's Ocean Portal.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hammered

Dear Editor,

The Marianas Variety ran a story with a misleading headline on Thursday, August 26, “Fruit bats, megapodes thrive in Northern Islands.” The story details how later this year the US Fish & Wildlife Service will release their report on the terrestrial survey of the Northern Islands they completed this summer, but quotes employees of the Northern Islands Mayor’s office to claim that fruit bats in the Northern Islands are thriving.

That was not the experience I had when I visited the Northern Islands last year; I saw very few bats. I decided to research what the historical populations of fruit bats were and found a paper Population estimates of fruit bats (Pteropus mariannus) in the Mariana Islands by Wiles et al.

Wiles et al. found that the largest fruit bat population was on Anatahan. Anatahan erupted in 2003 and destroyed much of the island. When I passed Anatahan last year I found a charred moonscape. It is unlikely many bats have survived the numerous eruptions over the last decade. USFWS didn’t survey the island this year for this reason.

Wiles et al. also found there were 2500 fruit bats living on Pagan. Compare that to the 1200 fruit bats Sandy Castro said they found living there this year. A reduction of over 50% in bat populations on an uninhabited island and the annihilation of the population on another does not meet the definition of “thriving.”

The article should have been headlined, “Fruit bats hammered in Northern Islands.”

Angelo O’Connor Villagomez
Washington, DC

Monday, August 23, 2010

Advance copies of Our Northern Islands now available

Our Northern Islands, the new book about the first expedition to the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, is now available for advance purchase by readers of the Saipan Blog.

Our Northern Islands contains over 60 rare, full-color photos of some of the least seen and visited places on Earth, including Maug, Uracas, Agrigan and Pagan. The story of the first expedition to the monument is told by Dennis Chan, the 18-year old Saipan student who earned a spot on the expedition by winning an essay contest with the theme, "Why I want to Visit the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument."

Click HERE to get your copy of Our Northern Islands.

our northern islandsDennis' spot on the expedition was funded by one of the members of the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument. The Friends wanted a young local person to experience the Northern Islands in the hopes that they would bring back a story to share with their peers. Our Northern Islands is that story and it is my hope that the young and young at heart living in the Southern Marianas will learn to know and love and cherish the Northern Islands because of this book.

Dennis was the first, but hopefully will not be the last student to be able to visit the monument. I spoke to him about how his book could help create the opportunity he had for other young people living on Saipan, Tinian and Rota, and we both agreed that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be given to non-profits that help protect our marine environment. Therefore, for the next twelve months a portion of the proceeds from every book sold will be donated to Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument and other organizations that promote marine conservation and education.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

When Baldy Met Fatty*

rick macphersonRick MacPherson from Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets was in Washington, DC last week and we had the chance to catch up over some adult beverages. Just to cue you in on how small the ocean blogging world is, Rick and Coral Reef Alliance are consulting (funding?) on an upcoming exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of Natural History. I'm not working on that project, but I share office space with the people who are.

And yes, that is a tie around my neck. And no, I am not wearing flip flops.

*Just so no feelings are hurt, I'm referring to Rick as the bald one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Ramon Garrido Villagomez for Senate

ramon g villagomezScott Russell at Northern Mariana Islands Council for the Humanities emailed me this campaign ad from the Marianas Variety. It is from when my father ran for office in 1979. I am less than one year old in this photo and both my parents were younger than I am now. I used the same photo in one of my campaign ads when I ran for Mayor of Saipan last year:

angelo villagomez for mayorThe photo didn't work for my father and it didn't work for me. We both lost. Oh, well. But apparently my step-mother gets a migraine whenever she hears mention of my mother, or for that matter, me. Rumor has it that she canceled her subscriptions to the Marianas Variety and the Saipan Tribune because I was buying so much ad space and getting so much earned media during last year's campaign. So feel free to share this link with her.

On a side note, in that campaign my father's opponent was none other than Froilan Tenorio. Froilan won the senate seat, went on to become governor, and is now the speaker of the House of Representatives. On the other hand, my father never ran for office again. Almost everyone I talk to agrees that he planned on running for governor, but he died young.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CNMI House Passes Budget 12-7


The Northern Marianas House of Representatives passed a budget. Liz Wahl has the video on Youtube.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Advance Copies of Our Northern Islands

our northern islandsThe release date for Our Northern Islands, Dennis Chan's book about the first expedition to the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument, is September 14, 2010. I am going to make advance copies available at a discounted price to fans of Our Northern Islands' Facebook page and subscribers of Under the Pala Pala (sign up on the right hand column of this blog).

Our Northern Islands | Promote Your Page Too

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Campeche Catshark

campeche catshark Parmaturus campechiensisThis handsome little specimen is a Campeche catshark, Parmaturus campechiensis. It is one of the millions of scientific specimens in the Smithsonian Institution's collection and was photographed and emailed to me by Sandra J. Raredon.

The first products of my project with the Smithsonian Ocean Portal are going to be rolled out in the next couple of weeks, and this little guy (he's only about 6 inches long) is going to be used in a Google Ocean post in the Gulf of Mexico. There are two species of shark that are endemic to the Gulf of Mexico, meaning that they live in the Gulf and nowhere else on the planet. One of the endemic sharks is the Gulf of Mexico Gulfhound Smoothhound; the other is this Campeche catshark.

I looked and looked and looked, and the only Campeche catshark image I was able to find was a sketch done by the FAO. Luckily the Smithsonian had this guy sitting in a jar in Pod Five and Sandra was willing to photograph it for me. I think this may be the only photograph of a Campeche catshark on the Internet. How awesome is that?

Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Contribute to Carnival of the Blue XL: Top of the Food Chain

carnival of the blue 40Next month the Saipan Blog will be the host of Carnival of the Blue 40, or as I prefer to call it, Carnival of the Blue XL. COTB XL promises to be the biggest, baddest COTB EVER. Why? Well, not only is COTB turning 40, but the theme of next month's carnival is going to be Top of the Food Chain.

COTB XL is going to be all about predators, baby.

Please use this online article submission form to submit your contribution to COTB XL. Please try to make your post about predation (¿cómo se dice de tiburón en Inglés?), but if the predation bug doesn't hit you this month, COTB XL will still publish your ocean blog. If you have any questions you can email me at angelovillagomez at gmail dot com.

By the way, this will be the fourth consecutive September the Saipan Blog has hosted Carnival of the Blue. The Saipan Blog has previously hosted Carnival of the Blue IV, Carnival of the Blue XVI and Carnival of the Blue XXVIII.

*A big thanks to underwater photographer and dive instructor Harry Blalock for letting me use his photo. If you ever find yourself on Saipan in need of a dive guide: http://www.axemurderertours.com/

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Miley Cyrus Kissing Justin Bieber

justin bieber kissing miley cyrusHope Gomez took this photo of Justin Bieber kissing Miley Cyrus backstage.

Carnival of the Blue 39

Carnival of the Blue 39 is now posted at Michael Bok's blog, Arthropoda. Carnival of the Blue is a rotating monthly compilation of the "best of" ocean blogging, bringing together ocean bloggers and readers and (hopefully) using new media to build a virtual community of ocean lovers.

Next month Carnival of the Blue is being hosted by...wait for it...wait for it...The Saipan Blog!

carnival of the blue 40Carnival of the Blue 40, or as I prefer to call it, Carnival of the Blue XL promises to be the biggest, baddest Carnival of the Blue EVER. To accomplish this I am asking the world's ocean bloggers to submit topics adhering to the theme, "Top of the Food Chain."

COTB XL is going to be all about predators, baby.

Please use this online article submission form to submit your contribution to Carnival of the Blue XL. If you have any questions you can email me at angelovillagomez at gmail dot com.

By the way, this will be my fourth consecutive September hosting Carnival of the Blue. The Saipan Blog has previously hosted Carnival of the Blue IV, Carnival of the Blue XVI and Carnival of the Blue XXVIII.

*A big thanks to underwater photographer and dive instructor Harry Blalock for letting me use his photo. If you ever find yourself on Saipan in need of a dive guide: http://www.axemurderertours.com/

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Mariana Trench Update: August 2010

About six months ago I coordinated a letter writing campaign to build support for building a Mariana Trench Eco-Discovery Center on Saipan. A hearing was scheduled to take place in Washington, DC and we needed letters in support of putting the visitors center on Saipan (or Tinian or Rota).

That effort was ultimately a waste of time, because competing bills that would have placed the visitors center on Guam and Saipan were eventually pulled by their respective sponsors.

Oh well. The fight to fulfill the promises of the Mariana Trench Marine National Monument continues. Last night I received the following email:
Hi Angelo:

I just received a note from Lois Capps, responding to my letter of many months ago during our letter writing campaign on the Trench bill. She is apparently Co-Sponsor of HR 3511. I had also written to her that I thought her husband's family and mine are related. She responded to that as well.

Where are we now with the thing and the Guam conflict?

I will write to her. What can I say to be helpful and effective and sound like I know what I'm talking about! :-)

I hope all is well with you. We are missing the CNMI.
I sent an update to this concerned citizen and I want to share my response with the readers of the Saipan Blog. Here is my response:
The Mariana Trench Marine National Monument protects some of the waters surrounding the three most northern islands in the Marianas archipelago Uracas, Maug and Asuncion. An area about the size of Maryland and Delaware bans the practice of commercial fishing, but other types of allowable fishing are yet to be defined in this area. The monument also recognizes the Mariana Trench, a geological feature as long as the West Coast, but fails to protect any of the ocean or ocean life sitting on top of it.

When James Connaughton, who was President Bush's Chairman of the White House's Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) (there is a new Chairman, just like there are new heads of every Cabinet department), talked to the leaders of the CNMI in 2008 and early 2009, he promised (1) world wide attention and media, (2) federal funding for jobs and enforcement, and (3) a visitors center. So far the media attention is the only promise that has been kept, mostly because of the work of the Pew Environment Group (and me).

The monument as it stands today is nothing more than a paper park. The protections are there on paper, but nothing has really changed from the pre-declaration days. There have been no increased patrols, no management structure put in place, and not one single federally funded job created. Much of this is probably due to the economic disaster left by Bush, but a lot has to do with the fact that US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) is the manager, when it would be more appropriate for NOAA Office of Marine National Sanctuaries or the National Park Service to be the manager (I will explain this).

For your discussion with the Representative, I would ask that you focus on the building of a visitors center. The CNMI economy is in free fall and the only viable economic activity other than federal funding is tourism. As the economy has crashed, more and more federal funding has been needed to keep the islands afloat. A visitors center would lead to more tourism, and would reduce the need for federal funding. Therefore, an investment now would probably lead to overall federal savings down the road. That alone is a legitimate reason for building a visitors center, never mind that the United States government promised the people of the CNMI they would build one.

About $1/4 million in funding to plan a visitors center was granted last year and Representative Sablan has requested an additional $1/2 million to move the process along. That first $1/4 million was granted to the CNMI Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR), which is a black hole of CNMI corruption and mismanagement. I don't expect any products to come of that money. The recent $1/2 million earmark has made it out of committee, but has yet to be voted on by the full US House. Once it passes the House, it still needs to pass the Senate and be signed by the President before the money is available. This money, if approved, would go to USFWS. Keeping the money with the federal government is a good thing, but a lot more money is needed to actually build the visitors center once there is a plan for it.

Two years have passed since the monument was declared and one of the reasons things are going so slowly is because the government agency in charge is the USFWS. USFWS is woefully underfunded every year and has their own set of priorities for building visitors centers. Only about 10% of the 500 or so USFWS managed National Wildlife Refuges have visitors centers and CNMI, home of the newest protected area they manage, is at the bottom of their priority list. Compare this to National Parks (NPS) and NOAA Sanctuaries, nearly all of which have visitors centers.

On another level, USFWS is usually charged with managing, you guessed it, fish and wildlife. The areas they manage, the National Wildlife Refuges, mostly exist because they contain important species of (mostly freshwater) fish and wildlife. On the other hand, National Parks tend to manage landscapes and NOAA Sanctuaries tend to manage oceans. USFWS also doesn't have much experience in managing marine (ocean) species, while NOAA does. The Trench Unit qualifies as a landscape, since it does not protect the ocean or ocean life, so should be managed by National Parks. The Islands Unit, the waters around the three islands, should be managed by NOAA, the government agency that has experience in managing ocean areas.

Many people on Saipan want the Secretary of Interior to issue an order transferring jurisdiction from USFWS to NPS or for the US Congress to amend the monument declaration to transfer jurisdiction from Interior (USFWS) to Commerce (NOAA Sanctuaries). A new manager would make a visitors center more likely, never mind leading to an increase in other programs, such as enforcement and education dollars. Neither of these suggestions has been entertained for various reasons.

Now the reason I initially wrote to you was because Guam's Representative to Congress, Madeleine Bordallo, was making a play to have the monument's visitors center placed on Guam. I think she was hoping that nobody on Saipan would notice, but I helped whip up a hornet's nest of protest and the result was a Congressional hearing last February. Testimony from the governors of Guam and CNMI were taken, along with a prominent Smithsonian scientist and the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument (Agnes McPhetres traveled to DC to testify in person).

The result of the hearing was a big fat zero. A few weeks after the hearing, both Representative Sablan and Representative Bordallo pulled their respective bills granting visitors centers to their respective districts because republicans were critical of the democrat's spending.

That brings us to today. CNMI DLNR is supposedly drafting plans for a visitors center as I write this (I am not holding my breath). There is also a $1/2 million earmark that might pass that could move the planning process along. That still does not give CNMI money to actually build a visitors center or staff a visitors center or provide educational materials.

I've already mentioned that a visitors center could be a cornerstone of a new ecotourism industry in the CNMI, but building a visitors center on Saipan is also critical to the eventual effective management of the monument. The American citizens living in the CNMI are the people living closest to the monument. They come into daily contact with our ocean. They need exposure to environment educational, probably more than the Americans living in the mainland.

I know this is a lot, but there is a lot more I could share with you. I hope this is a good start. And thank you for helping. If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them.

Angelo
I've actually written a memoir about all this, but it needs some more work before it gets published. In the meantime I've been working on publishing Dennis Chan's memoir about last year's expedition to the Mariana Trench Monument. The book is called Our Northern Islands. A release date has not been set, but if you want to be the first to know when it will be available, become a fan of Dennis' Facebook page: Our Northern Islands.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Matt Rand: Guest Commentator on CNN

Pew Environment Group's Matt Rand, one of the very good friends of the Friends of the Mariana Trench Monument, is a guest commentator on CNN today. He writes about sharks:
Sharks endangered by a bowl of soup
By Matt Rand, Special to CNN
August 2, 2010

Editor's note: Matt Rand directs the Pew Environment Group's Global Shark Conservation Campaign and is an avid fisherman and certified diver.

(CNN) -- Few members of the animal kingdom have grabbed our imagination as much as sharks. From 1975's summer blockbuster "Jaws," to 2004's animated film "Shark Tale," these marvels of the deep have been a staple in U.S. pop culture -- a trend that continues as viewers this week watch the Discovery Channel's latest edition of "Shark Week."

Yet even though they have earned a reputation as fierce predators, in reality it is sharks that are the hunted. Unless we act soon, re-runs on cable TV may be among the few places sharks can be seen.

For hundreds of millions of years, sharks have ruled the oceans. Predating dinosaurs, these natural wonders have adapted over the ages to survive the harsh climatic changes that doomed many other species to extinction. Sharks often serve as a keystone species by culling the sick and diseased to maintain balance in the marine ecosystem.

But their reign at the top of the marine food chain is threatened. Sharks are speedy and powerful hunters, but they also grow very slowly. Unlike other fish, sharks don't lay large numbers of eggs, but instead give birth to small numbers of live young.

They typically mature late and produce relatively few offspring, making them particularly vulnerable to modern industrial fishing practices. Many species of sharks -- from the great white to the iconic hammerhead -- are in danger of being fished to commercial extinction. A major culprit is soup.

At one time, shark fin soup was considered a delicacy for the elite. But as Asia grows in population and wealth, the demand for shark fins has gone through the roof. According to the United Nations, shark fin imports to Hong Kong and Taiwan alone rose 214 percent from 1985 to 1998. This has had a disastrous impact on shark populations globally.

The wasteful practice of "finning"-- slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the animal to die at sea -- is one of the biggest threats to populations. Indeed, up to 73 million sharks are killed annually across the globe to support the shark fin trade.
Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually across the globe to support the shark fin trade.

The U.N. estimates that more than half of highly migratory sharks are either overexploited or depleted. In the United States, populations of some shark species, such as dusky sharks, have declined by roughly 80 percent since the 1970s. Dusky sharks are so depleted that scientists at the National Marine Fisheries Service estimate it could take from 100 to 400 years to rebuild their populations, even with strict fishing limits. These mighty creatures, however, don't have that long to wait.

Over the past year, leaders from around the world have stepped up in defense of sharks. In 2009, the small Pacific island nation of Palau created the first national shark sanctuary -- declaring protections from all commercial fishing in an area of water about the size of Texas.

Closer to home, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill in 2009 to help close legal loopholes in U.S. law on shark finning. A companion measure is pending in the U.S. Senate. These efforts should be applauded, but if we are to truly save sharks, we need action on a much larger, more global scale.

In this U.N.-declared International Year of Biodiversity, world leaders will come together to talk about preserving species, as the U.N. prepares for its fall session. They -- including President Obama -- should call for concrete and meaningful action to conserve sharks globally, ensuring their survival. This includes restrictions on both the number of sharks that can be caught and on international trade in shark products, as well as the establishment of additional marine reserves where sharks are free from overexploitation.

While new video technology can provide us with an amazing glimpse into the lives of these age-old masters of the deep, as demonstrated during "Shark Week" and other popular shows, it's hard for any documentary to truly capture the full scope of the threat that shark populations face around the globe.

We can't sit by while a species that survived the extinction of the dinosaurs is being pushed into oblivion by the demand for an exotic bowl of soup.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Matt Rand.
There is a local effort on Saipan to ban shark finning in Northern Mariana Islands. I wish I was on Saipan to support this effort, because it is a good one. It is supported by science and has already been done in Hawaii. All I can do from my small office in Washington, DC is to join the CNMI Shark Fin Free Zone Facebook group.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Do you know Elvin Nichols?

Elvin Nichols tinian world war iiEarlier this week Lawerence Duponcheel was working in his vegetable garden in his backyard on Tinian. While he was digging around in his plants he found this dogtag of an American soldier.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, Law was able to figure out that Elvin Nichols was inducted into the Army on March 13, 1943 in Kansas City in Wyandotte County, Kansas. Lawrence thinks he might have been involved in the liberation of Tinian, but my guess is that he was on island preparing for the invasion of Japan. My reasoning is that the Army did not invade Tinian, the 2nd and 4th Marine Divisions did the invading (Just an aside, my American grandmother's brother, James Walsh, was one of the Marines who invaded). My guess is that he worked on one of the hundreds of B-29s that were based on Tinian and used to bomb the Japanese mainland. Who knows? Maybe he even worked on the Enola Gay.