Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Saluting our Troops, Honoring RMEF

The date was November 10, 2012. The Stars and Stripes proudly flapped in the breeze over Camp Leatherneck in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. But on this particular day the American flag flew on behalf of Gunnery Sergeant Geoffrey A. Barisano of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Not only is Geoffrey proud to be a Marine, he’s also a proud member of the RMEF. 

Ten months earlier Barisano, already a member, called RMEF headquarters seeking information about possibly becoming a life member—a membership he could not afford because of his military duties. He struck up a conversation with a member service representative who expressed her appreciation for his service. Geoffrey said he received an assignment for a July deployment to Afghanistan to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom. The rep promised to call him prior to his departure so, six months later; she did just that, “surprising” him right before he left.

Originally from Los Gatos, California, Geoffrey joined the USMC in January 1997. “I have been a Marine for almost 17 years and have loved every second of it—almost as much as hunting,” said Barisano. His first elk hunt was in October 2003 following his first deployment to Afghanistan. Some pals invited him and he was hooked! He even had a comment selected by the Bugle magazine (link) staff so he received a Bugle hat. “My wife will tell you I never take it off,” Geoffrey added. 

As for his latest assignment, he served as the 3d Marines Aircraft Wing Aviation Ordinance Chief. His unit had the responsibility for aircraft logistics (parts, tools, weapons, etc.) and sustainability (aircraft life cycle) in support of aviation operations in the Helmand Province for the USMC. Given his pressing day-to-day duties and his passion for elk and elk hunting, you can imagine what it was like to be a hunter stationed in another country on the other side of the world during elk season. 

Sgt. Geoffrey Barisano (third from the left)
RMEF tried to ease that “pain” by sending some a box of Bugle magazines and some other RMEF goodies to Barisano. He received the care package on September 10. “Got your package in the mail today...AWESOME! Thank you kindly to you and the rest of the team,” Geoffrey wrote in an email. “I kept a couple of stickers, but the rest is here for the taking. I sent out an e-mail and contacted all my hunting brothers out here. I can't tell you what this means to me and the rest of the miserable hunters who aren't hunting wapiti this fall because we're out here. Once again, may your kindness be repaid a hundredfold. I humbly submit my thanks.” 

Barisano followed up his thanks with action by offering to fly the American flag over Camp Leatherneck in honor of RMEF but the day of his choosing wasn’t just any random day. It was November 10. Any Marine will tell you that specific date marks the anniversary of the founding of the Marines! “I hope that the entire team there in Missoula enjoys it and recognizes that it was flown for all that you do in support of the wapiti and the United States Armed Forces,” he wrote. 

Thank you Sergeant Barisano for your kindness and your service. Semper Fi!

(Barisano flew another flag over Camp Leatherneck for the husband of Julia Kolb, the RMEF member service representative who corresponded with Geoffrey throughout, and still does today.)

1 comment:

  1. Although this tour was one of the less glorious tours, it was still filled with both good days and bad. To be able to share this with the RMEF family has been a blessing through and through. To the RMEF: May the best of your past be the worst of your future! Keep up the good work supporting Elk, the environment, and the United States Armed Forces.

    God Bless,
    Gunnery Sergeant Barisano USMC