After 10 years as the first and only Director of the NOAA Corps,
Harley Nygren decided
The official date was January 1, 1981. He has been replaced by
Captain Kelly E. Taggart, who has been promoted to Rear Admiral
We talked to Harley recently and he commented on the following:
most exciting assignment had to be the Arctic Party in 1949-1952
where "I had the hell scared out of me." Conditions were grim
and harsh with combined operations conducted many miles from
civilization--no one near by to rescue you. We saw an airplane
and got mail and supplies once a month when possible. Combined
operations of geodesy, photogrammetry and hydrography filled
field seasons 7 to 9 months long with no breaks. There were
no ships--the men lived in tents, boats, and shacks. Sometimes
you would complete hydro at dusk at project limits--camp out
overnight on the launch--and split the lines coming back to
camp the next day. You had about 6 to 8 weeks of open water
starting in August when all possible daylight was used for hydro.
The assignment lasted 3 years.
most fun assignment was as U.S. observer on a British Antarctic
Expedition in 1961. I rode for 4 months on their two ships which
combined scientific research and supply trips. Only duty was
to help out as necessary and to write a report (sounds great)--and
I even got to visit many back ports in the Falkland Islands.
most important contribution only history will tell--perhaps
the establishment of the Corps as a NOAA asset--or it might
be the survey of Prudhoe Bay. (I think we can say that Harley
also had a lot to do with improving the morale of individual
officers--he got involved with us! He opened the system with
communication--the Officer Assignment Board, the Officer Personnel
Board, the Corps Bulletin and the Service Report with its feedback
sections.) The old way was: "Tell 'em nothing, show 'em nothing,
ask 'em nothing--no news is good news." If you have complaints
now, there are people who will listen.
regret Don't think there are any regrets--didn't enjoy every
minute, might do some things differently, but am not worried
about lost opportunities. We (the Corps) might have moved more
aggressively but don't think the Corps missed any opportunities.
A kind of a regret (not in terms of what was done or not done)
is that more people don't understand the position and role of
the Director of the Corps (he's more than a personnel officer)--the
perception lingers that the Director, NOS, is the top job and
this doesn't help to build career ladders throughout NOAA.
of the Corps More of the same in long term--don't know what
I see in the short term. We must spread officers throughout
NOAA, retain our marine orientation with strong participation
and management of marine areas--that's where our officers make
a difference. NOS losing numerically may not be that serious.
If senior management in NOS drops one or two levels, this would
increase the level in other areas of NOAA and expand the Corps
in the long run.
to officers Be concerned with your job and the programs,
not the organization. The work is important and will continue--the
sign on the door doesn't make any difference. We get caught
up with organization change and doing things that are not especially
important to the taxpayers; however, the job is the key. (To
the officers in training class)--we do a lot of things you won't
like such as. . .If you stay in, don't complain later because
I've told you now, but the tough times will produce good sea
stories--'my captain was worse than yours.'
January 1, 1980 is the day. We will probably stay here in Virginia
for a while. We've tried to minimize moves for the Corps due
to the high cost--the same goes for me. Seattle is a nice place,
although it can be wet at times. (Captain Fortin once remarked
that he had been in Seattle so long that moss had gown on his
north side.) Only whole summer I was in Seattle I spent on the
Ship HODGSON. Enjoyed lots of jobs on small ships in the early
days with lots of responsibilities, including deck work. Now
in retirement, I'm back to lots of jobs around the house, with
a little golf thrown in, of course.
Thanks, Harley, for a fine job. You have established the Corps
as a vital part of NOAA and opened up new career avenues for
us. You have created a communication system between the officers
and your office in which there is empathy and personal concern.
Your officer assignments and actions have not always met with
great favor from the "troops;" however, we agree with the very
positive manner in which you have stood up for individual officer
needs and desires. In our service, the organization's requirements
come first; however, there must also be some recognition and
weight given to officer requests and special concerns. We know
that the NOAA Corps has grown positively as a result of your
leadership and we thank you. We wish you and Norma God speed
in this phase of your life.