A fish revered by Northwest tribes has come back to the Yakima River Basin. Whenever a species is lost and then returns to a specific area, it's a reason to celebrate. We are thankful this particular fish has come back to spawn in its native habitat.
Yakama Nation biologists have spent the past four summers releasing thousands of sockeye salmon to restore fish runs ruined by dams in area rivers and streams.
Since 2009, the just-released fish, also known as "bluebook" sockeye, would swim up the Cle Elum River every fall to spawn and die while the babies would spend a year in the lake before swimming to the ocean.
Now the adult fish finally are returning on their own to Cle Elum Lake to spawn. This is a terrific sign, and we hope the fish continue to thrive.
This particular fish holds a special place in the hearts of the tribes. They are the only species of salmon that is born and matures in a lake rather than a river or stream. They also are among the last species of salmon to spawn in the fall, which historically helped feed the tribes in the winter.
The tribes have been introducing lost species of fish all across the Northwest, and the Cle Elum Lake project is just one restoration effort.
Its success is encouraging and we hope it's only the beginning of new fish runs throughout the region.
A soldier returns
Forty-three years is an incredibly long time to wait for closure.
But it has come, at last, for the family of a Walla Walla soldier who died in 1969, and for that we are thankful.
The remains of Maj. Larry J. Hanley finally have made it back home and have been laid to rest.
The Air Force pilot was 26 years old when his plane crashed over the Khammouan Province in Laos during the Vietnam War. Neither his wingman nor the air controller directing the attack witnessed the crash, so his location remained unknown.
Hanley initially was declared missing in action, but then in 1979, a military review board amended his status to killed in action.
The crash site was miraculously found last year, and his remains were identified through a genetic match with his mother and sister.
His remains have now been returned to Walla Walla and last Saturday he finally had the proper funeral and military burial he deserved.
It's never too late to honor the brave soldiers who gave their lives for our country, and it is encouraging that military authorities make the effort to bring the remains of deceased soldiers back home when they are finally discovered, no matter how many years have passed.
By all accounts, Hanley was among the finest, a bright and selfless soldier. He graduated from Walla Walla High School and attended the University of Washington and Central Washington University, where he became a member of the Air Force ROTC. He graduated from CWU in 1966 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force.
Hanley flew 119 combat missions over Vietnam before returning to the United States. In August, 1969 he volunteered to return to the war.
When asked by his family why he was willing to return to Vietnam, he replied he was going so some married man wouldn't have to.
A few months later, on Nov. 4, 1969, Hanley was attacking an enemy anti-aircraft position when his plane was shot down. His family always hoped his body would be found.
His sisters have missed him, wondering all these years what happened to him and where he might be.
Now they know. He's home.