My post is intended as a public "thank you" to the wonderful people who helped us search for our son John. He had been in Hawaii working as an intern for the USGS for about two months before he took off on his hike over the Thanksgiving holiday.
This is what the USGS does (quoted from their official webpage):
"The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and usable information."
John had graduated from Wheaton College in 1999 with a major in Biology. During the summer he had worked on a project through the University of Missouri, St. Louis. And for the fall he had landed the prestigious privilege of working as an intern on a USGS project in Hawaii. It was a big deal for him and he was looking forward to it even though it would barely pay enough to cover his expenses.
He was working on the Palila bird project. The Palila was endangered because of introduced species that had upset the natural ecosystem of its habitat. During the week the team camped up on Mauna Kea and on the weekends they would return to the base camp to wash clothes, enter and analyze data and prepare meals for the coming week.
What we could never have anticipated was the overwhelming support and help we received from the USGS people when John disappeared. They spearheaded one of the most extensive and intense searches for a missing person that had ever been done on the Big Island. (Many people disappear every year just on the Big Island alone.)
We want to publicly thank Paul Banko, the head of the Palila bird project, Steve Dougill, John's immediate supervisor and all of the many, many other USGS personnel who helped with the searches, as well as with many other details we probably don't even know about. The USGS contributed countless man hours to the search, as well as vehicles and perhaps most importantly, their knowledge of the island and its people to help in the searches. We were amazed and will forever be grateful.