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Look Down

A slew of the sites Bert Ho (’01) helps the National Park Service preserve for future generations include shipwrecks.

March 14, 2016

Ho is an underwater archaeologist who joined the park service’s Submerged Resources Center in 2010.

He has documented shipwrecks in national sites including Isle Royale National Park on Michigan’s Lake Superior, Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Straits, Biscayne National Park in Florida, Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi, and Channel Islands National Park in California.

He also dives in locations around the world. One of his favorites is Panama where he helped search for the lost shipwrecks of the pirate captain Henry Morgan.

But Ho does not always search for ships when he dives. In the area around Midway Atoll, he helped search for lost World War II planes from the Battle of Midway.

Ho says his interest in archaeology grew as he took every class possible in UT’s Department of Anthropology.

Some of his favorite classes were historic archaeology with Charles Faulkner, now distinguished professor emeritus of the humanities, and Southeastern archaeology with Gerald Schroedl, now professor emeritus.

“I would have to say that the archaeology courses were what gave me the best foundation for my career,” Ho says. “Historic archaeology with Professor Faulkner was the first time I heard about shipwrecks being referred to as archaeological sites.”

Ho says his most memorable dive was in 2015 at the USS Arizona memorial for the 74th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The site where the Arizona exploded and sank in 1941 killing 1,100 sailors and Marines is part of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

“When you dive above and around the battleship, knowing that so many young men are entombed in the shipwreck, you cannot help but think about them, their families, and what a privilege it is to serve them by protecting and managing their ship for years to come,” he says.

Ho also attended the memorial ceremony. “Seeing the Pearl Harbor survivors, the veterans who still return every year despite being in their 90s, and those that serve currently in our military, was an incredible experience,” he says.

“It really reminds you of who you are serving when conducting projects at the memorial,” he adds. “Those dives truly put the service in National Park Service.”

Photos by Brett Seymour, Submerged Resources Center, National Park Service

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