Clarence Edward “Ki” Faulkner
September 14, 1923 – April 3, 2017
How does one summarize such an impactful life?
My Dad, Ki Faulkner, saved lives in the middle of a war, saved lives by making airports safer, and saved entire species from extinction.
An Eagle Scout with Troop Number 1 in Brewer, Maine, Ki Faulkner devoted his life to the outdoors. He loved to hunt and fish, and to simply walk in the woods teaching others about the wonders of nature.
He left after his Freshman Year at the University of Maine, Orono to volunteer for the Tenth Mountain Division. He quickly rose to acting Platoon Sergeant of 3rd Platoon in the 86th Regiment. The Tenth Mountain Division was specially trained for mountain warfare and led the Allies’ final push in Northern Italy during World War II.
Ki was known for his leadership skills and his acts of bravery. He earned two Bronze Stars, for rallying his men in turning back a German counter-attack on Riva Ridge and for leading the capture of the German Headquarters in Torbole during the battle for Lake Garda.
Yet, he was most proud of his Soldiers Medal. On February 10, 1945, his Platoon was staying in a warehouse readying for a patrol. A pin popped out of a grenade during distribution of ammunition. As others froze, Ki rushed forward, grabbed the grenade, and threw it through a ceiling skylight to explode in the air. He saved the lives of eighteen of his comrades. The commendation reads:
By his quick thinking, instantaneous initiative, and selfless heroism endangering his own life to save the lives of the other eighteen men, Sergeant Faulkner has earned the highest commendation and praise for his gallantry and valor.
Ki returned home and earned a BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Maine. Just as he was starting his career, he was called to duty during the Korean War. His former Commanding General in Italy, Mark Clark, wanted veterans to “season” new recruits bound for the Korean War. My Dad designed and led highly challenging field exercises for the 101st Airborne on Okinawa.
Once back in America, Ki began a 36-year career as the first Wildlife Biologist hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On October 4, 1960, he came to national prominence developing bird safety procedures in the wake of the deadly air crash at Boston’s Logan Airport. His guidelines for removing bird habitats near run ways remain the global standard to this day.
While leading the Midwest Region in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Ki developed and led teams who saved entire species from extinction. His Wolf experts developed the world’s first radio collars, including inventing batteries, transmitters, and plane based tracking technology, to better understand Wolf behavior, ultimately saving the Eastern Timber Wolf from extinction. His Eagle experts, collected eggs from healthy birds in Minnesota, then used hot water bottles to keep them warm as they flew to other parts of America to replace soft eggs laden with DDT, thus restoring Bald Eagles in the lower 48 states. His bird experts perfected ways to drive away Cowbirds in order to save the Kirkland Warbler from extinction.
Ki’s most ambitious effort began with the chance discovery of a Black Footed Ferret in a Prairie Dog town. Ferrets were thought to be extinct since the 1920s. His teams charted the tiny population and began a captive breeding and release program that continues to this day in cooperation with the Smithsonian Institution. In 2015, a male Ferret born in captivity was named after him in honor of his role. “Ki Ferret” is now happily making little Ferrets after being released into the wild in Colorado.
My Dad’s greatest desire was to have young people, for generations to come, discover their own love for nature and the outdoors. He founded the first co-educational Explorer Post for Wildlife. In his final years, he donated all his collections, photos, and papers to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Museum at the National Conservation Training Center near Shepherdstown, West Virginia. These include his hand tied fishing flies and hand carved decoys, all amazing works of art.
I was incredibly blessed to have Ki Faulkner as my father, and to be guided by him throughout my life, up to just a few days ago. His legacy lives on through the descendants of those he saved in Italy, the animals who still thrive in the wild, and the generations of young people who will view his collections and be inspired to love the outdoors as much as he did.
Ki married Irene MacDonald Faulkner on June 22, 1946. She passed on November 6, 2013. They will both be memorialized and interred during a private family gathering in Maine later this year.
Those wishing to honor Ki Faulkner should make a donation to the Harpers Ferry Park Association; P.O. Box 197; Harpers Ferry, WV 25425. Make checks payable to “Harpers Ferry Park Assn. Ki Faulkner”.