|Letters from Africa|
I was with Co. B, during the period '67-70. After my first 6 months I got levied to Pleiku (330th RRC) but returned at the end of that tour to Kagnew and my last year in the army.
I have been corresponding the old fashioned way with a number of Kagnewites (Bronson Davis, Mike Graves, Joe DiVeglia, Mike Metras, John Rasmusson, Tom Horton, Fred Whissel, Charles Krumbein) and one of them mentioned the site. I visited it and immediately saw that Rich Ellison was looking for me (so I am now found!).
Since then, through the site I have been in contact with Duke Klassen, Bruce 'Skip' Dahlgren, Al Cohen, Ron Perry, Lou Madden, and Chuck Moulton. I am grateful that the site has enabled me to get in touch with these friends again.
I have now been living and working in Africa for about 25 years. I asked to be discharged in Asmara in March 1970. I set off with Dick Gouldey (who was also discharged there at the same time, and Rich Ellison who was just taking some leave). I was roughly heading for East Africa. Rich, Dick and I had some adventures for about 3 weeks, when Rich had to return to duty, and Dick decided to return to the States. I didn't return to the States until I visited in 1976.
I continued slowly on my way, first spending several more months exploring Ethiopia and then making my way to eastern and southern Africa. Along the way I stopped for a few days to a week in most rural towns, and went out of my way to meet people living and working in the area in order to learn more about the area and about different career fields. I volunteered my help in many places, and almost always was made welcome for 1-2 weeks or 1-2 months. I got involved in beekeeping in Ethiopia, range management in the Northern Frontier District of Kenya, a cooperative farm in the Kenya highlands, a sisal estate on the coast of Tanzania, topographic surveying in central Malawi, and even 6 months crocodile hunting in Malawi. I also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro with Mike Metras in 1970 (and again 29 years later with my wife, Diane, in January of this year -1999),.
I was not looking for a paid job, but was looking to find what career field interested me, and what qualifications I would eventually need. By then, I became more focussed and made my way to Zambia to try to meet some wildlife biologists. Well, luck was with me, I volunteered my services for about 6 months, and then was able to get a work permit on a local contract as a wildlife officer. I worked in South Luangwa NP for about 3 years, and Kafue NP for about 5 yrs.
By then of course I had decided on a career in wildlife management (but I wanted to work overseas, not in the States). I knew I needed a Masters degree to do that so I returned to the States and went to Alaska where I planned to work for 1 year to earn some money to help pay for college. Right after I arrived in Alaska I met my future wife, and we got married 6 months later. But, a year later, on schedule, I started at age 32 as a freshman at the University of Arizona. Four years later I had my Bachelor's, and after another 3 years I had my Master's in wildlife ecology. (Also we had 2 kids who are now 17 and 14).
In 1988 I returned to Africa, working as a Parks Advisor for the World Wildlife Fund in Cameroon, setting up a new National Park in a rainforest (20 ft of rainfall annually!). At the end of the 3 year contract I decided not to renew as the health conditions were terrible and so was the schooling. (We all had malaria repeatedly, typhoid repeatedly, and my wife and son both have riverblindness - which we caught early enough to prevent serious consequences, but they have been continuing treatment for over 10 years).
I then got a job in Botswana as a wildlife extension specialist, where I worked for 8 years. And I have just begun a new job in Namibia where I am a consultant to the Director of Wildllife on community based natural resources management projects. Obviously I enjoy international work (as in the Army, you may get much more responsibility then in a normal job). I also love the USA (you learn to value the things we tend to take for granted when you live in countries who don't have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities). But I expect to continue working overseas until my retirement, when I will probably return to the States.
Continue the good work on the website. And do you know of a Website for the 330th RRCo, Pleiku? I was there in 68/69.
John Eric Hazam
P.O. Box 90699