We Honor Him
January 1, 2020
Pat Horning Retires After Many Years Of Valuable Service
Letter From Pat Horning ChiefBWFR@gmail.com
The National Park Service (NPS) has been a major part of my life. I grew up at Grand Canyon where my father managed the NPS water utility at Phantom Ranch. My childhood heroes were famous rangers. In 1978, I joined the NPS trail crew at Grand Canyon where I worked seasonal NPS positions for the next 17 years.
In 1986, my soon-to-be wife, Lisa had an accident. To be near during her recovery, I transferred to Olympic National Park where I was a NPS mule packer. Because rain was not in my DNA, in the off season, Lisa and I volunteered for Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA).After a winter volunteering at Lee's Ferry, we were offered term positions at Hall's Crossing, both remote outposts in GLCA.
Soon, our daughter, Megan arrived prematurely in a snowstorm. As we had no insurance, desperate measures were necessary;I took a job with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, in Tucson, Arizona to gain status for permanent NPS positions.
First Permanent NPS Position
In 1990, I gladly accepted my first permanent NPS position, Utility Systems Operator, and returned to Hall's Crossing where our second daughter Adair was born. During this time, I found my calling diving for Glen Canyon's (GLCA) dive team. When the Aids to Navigation Dive Leader position opened in 1995, I jumped at the opportunity.
To this day, I believe this is the best position in the NPS. I built the dive team into a world class rescue and recovery program that eventually received the Director's Award for Unit Excellence. The team set records for the deepest body recovery on air at 197 feet and the deepest robotic recovery at 487 feet. While under my watch, the team never left a drowned victim in Lake Powell. This team perfected techniques for underwater search that became the standard worldwide.
Survival Of The Dive Team
In 2016, I accepted the Roads and Trails Foreman position to ensure the survival of the dive team. After overseeing a major road reconstruction project, I was asked to move to headquarters to detail as a facility manager. Apparently successful at office duties, I was assigned as the GLCA Facility Management Specialist. Though disappointed to leave a life of NPS field duties, I zealously channeled my experience, energy, and knowledge into this new position.
I was able to reduce deferred maintenance by 50 percent while executing 98 percent of funding successfully. I have funded projects for the GLCA Facilities Division into 2024. Last year, I postponed retirement to ensure to the success of the Energy Saving Performing Contract (ESPC). The ESPC is my passion project, which will implement renewable energy utilities the remote outposts of GLCA.
Years Of NPS Service
I have worked for the National Park Service for 48 percent of its existence. Throughout my career, emergency medical services, fire, and search and rescue have been my vocation. In 2000, I carried this passion over into a volunteer position as medic and firefighter in my home community, Big Water, Utah. In 2012, I became Chief of Big Water Fire. Recently, I successfully acquired funding to transform this volunteer department into a 24/7 paid team. My first retirement goal!
As I announce my retirement after 43 years of service, I wholeheartedly acknowledge that the National Park Service is the best thing that ever happened to me. I retire with my head high, proud of all that I accomplished, and grateful for the friendships developed throughout my career. I thank the National Park Service and its dedicated personnel for allowing me to excel, for providing awonderful life for my family, and for a fun and exciting life's work working for the Green and Grey.
Signing off, Smoky-the-Bear
And, A Note From His Daughter
Just kidding...We know you are not Forest Service. Just a reminder to always read to the very end when you conscript a typist;) Super Proud of you Dad. Thank you for your service to the American people and for protecting our public lands and for working tirelessly to take care of us. Thank you for keeping strangers safe and for finding closure for families in their most desperate times. Thank you for teaching me and Adair what it means to work hard as a public servant and have pride in doing it. Don't forget to take time to relax and hang out on some islands with Mom. Here's to many more years putting out fires, saving lives, and smiling big while doing it. Love you, Meg.