Vin worked with POBSP in 1964 and 1965, but his path to working with birds was somewhat unorthodox. He earned his B.S. from Colorado State University in Forest Management, and later moved to Alaska, where he did graduate work in zoology and worked for the Arctic Health Research Center in Anchorage. Life in the outdoors, especially mountaineering, had been an important part of Vin’s life from an early age, so it is not surprising that he was interested in working on these types of projects. Although he had no formal training in ornithology, his detailed notes for the field books indicate his keen interest in studying birds and other wildlife. Vin worked as a research assistant for POBSP, participating in six at-sea expeditions, as well conducting research on the main Hawaiian islands while not at sea. His main duties involved bird banding, taking blood samples, and general wildlife observation.
|An example of bird banding data|
Tell Pat when I get back, waking him to do so. “Do you think it’s that serious?” he says. I tell him I think the lives of my friends are of importance. He later agrees and would’ve let me go on my own. I’d thought of doing so, of course, but told myself that would be irresponsible. After all I’m unauthorized and probably not needed. Civil defense and the Army will have things under control. What matters that I’m a member of ARG [Alaska Rescue Group]. I’d just be another mouth to feed. If I was any good or a first aid instructor my pupils will save lives.
I hope these were my foremost thoughts rather than the cost of fare I’d have to bear, the possibility of losing my job, the fact that I’d have to buy arctic gear in Seattle before going up; the threat of prolonged discomfort. (SIA RU000245, Series 60, Volume 57)
|Destruction on 4th Avenue in Anchorage after the April 1964 earthquake. On the left, Mac's Foto (mentioned in Vin's notes) is visible as one of the damaged businesses (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AlaskaQuake-FourthAve.jpg)|
Mountaineering was never far from Vin’s mind, even when he was out at sea. His field notes from March 5, 1965 give some insight into his plans for after his work with POBSP was finished, saying “If I’m going to be a great anything it’ll be [a] mountaineer and mtn. writer I think.” (SIA RU000245, Series 60, Volume 57) Vin did end up returning to Alaska, and became a mountain climber of some renown. Among his many “firsts”, one that stands out is his accomplishment of being the first person to reach the summit of all 50 states. He was also part of the team that became the first to cross the Harding Icefield on the Kenai Peninsula. Sadly, Vin was killed in an avalanche during a climbing expedition on Dhaulagiri, a peak in the Himalayas, in 1969, leaving behind his wife Grace, as well as many family members and friends.
|Notes from an at sea expedition|
Conal Huetter, Intern
Field Book Project, Smithsonian Institution Libraries
To learn more about the Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program and its field documentation, check out “Life in the Field: a Reflection on Cataloging Field Notes in the Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program” on the Field Book Project Blog, images on Flickr, and field book records on Smithsonian Collections Search Center.
Hoeman, J. Vincent. Field Notes. 1964-1965. Series 60, Volume 57. SIA RU000245, National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Pacific Ocean Biological Survey Program, Records, circa 1961-1973, with data from 1923. Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. 15 July 2016.
Gonzales, J. (2014). Project 49: Grace without Vin, a love story without a happy ending. Green and Gold News. Retrieved from http://greenandgold.uaa.alaska.edu/blog/30162/project-49-grace-without-vin-love-story-minus-happy-ending/.
Johnston, D. (1969). John Vincent Hoeman, 1936-1969. American Alpine Journal, 16 (2). Retrieved from http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12196950100/John-Vincent-Hoeman-1936-1969.