SWOSU Faculty Member Aids in Post-Sandy Recovery


Post Sandy Recovery Team
SWOSU adjunct faculty member Rupert Nowlin (back left) stands with members of the Cherokee Fire Dancers and U.S. Naval Captain David J. Harrison. Nowlin aided in the recovery efforts after superstorm Sandy.

Rupert Nowlin, an adjunct faculty member in the SWOSU Parks and Recreation Department in Weatherford, recently returned from Ft. Dix, New Jersey, after aiding in the recovery effort in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

As part of the U.S. Forest Service’s Cherokee Fire Dancers crew, Nowlin worked for six days at Naval Weapons Station Earle (NWSE).  The Cherokee Fire Dancers usually battle wildfires but were used in a different capacity on this trip. Nowlin served as crew boss trainee for the 20-person chainsaw squad that cleared downed trees from patrol roads around the base.

NWSE functions as a port for warships to load and unload weapons. Nowlin said the military was on high alert during and after the storm, so a swift clean up was needed to secure the base.

After meeting with the commanding officer of NWSE, Captain David J. Harrison, and discovering his Cherokee heritage, the Cherokee Fire Dancers were invited to dine with Captain Harrison aboard the USNS Sacagawea, a Lewis and Clark class dry cargo ship. They even toured the ship from the bridge to the engine room.

Nowlin teaches in the SWOSU Parks and Recreation Department, which offers an Associates of Science degree in the field of wildland fire fighting. Nowlin is a fire crew coordinator in the program. For more information on the program, please contact 580.774.3291 or prm@swosu.edu.