WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii -- The 599th Transportation Brigade is fortunate to have individual mobilization augmentees (IMAs) on its active-duty roles. Because these personnel are reservists, they have a wealth of knowledge from their civilian positions that is very different from that of fulltime active duty Soldiers.
On Nov. 4, 599th IMA, Master Sgt. Louis Burnett, Surface Operations Center NCOIC, gave a video-conferencing presentation about his experiences as a game warden working for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to the Hui Malama o Mililani environmental club at Mililani High School.
“I retired as a lieutenant in the department after 21 years working in the law enforcement division as a game warden that specialized in natural resource laws.
“Along with my work for the department, I also held two commissions, one each from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
“As such, I became very familiar with the Endangered Species Act and its effects on Louisiana. I spoke to the class about the latest on endangered species there as well as my experience as a law enforcement officer.”
“Although members of the club asked my opinion on the law and current regulations, I just let them know the facts,” he said.
In addition to the Endangered Species Act, Burnett talked about cases he worked enforcing hunting, fishing and boating violations for the state.
“In one case we went onto a boat, and the four men on it had their limit of five red snappers each in the fish well,” he said. “We don’t always check the whole boat, but one of us noticed some scales on the deck, so we checked the hold. They had 876 red snappers!
“We seized the fish and gave them to charity,” he said. “Additionally, once the case was decided, each man was fined $10,000, and the boat was seized.”
Burnett said it is part of a game warden’s job to educate prosecutors and district attorneys on current laws and the importance of enforcing them.
“They are all familiar with the importance of enforcing laws like bank robbery or speeding, but most of them aren’t familiar with fish and game laws,” he said.
Members of the environmental club appreciated Burnett’s talk.
"I enjoyed the talk by Master Sgt. Burnett because he was able to help shed light on the law enforcement side of environmental issues and policy,” said Jennifer Kuwahara, Hui Malama o Mililani Club advisor. “He shared lots of personal stories that helped to paint a picture of the work he did and the types of interactions he has had with the public.”
“I learned that enforcing environmental laws can be complicated and sometimes difficult to enforce,” she added. “There is always a human or society side of enforcing the laws, and it can get contentious in some cases.”
“I learned a lot about a side of conservation that I’ve never really known before, the legal side of things,” said club member Makoa DeAlmeida. “Learning about certain regulations and why they are in effect helped me to see a bigger picture of what goes on in the environment.”
“I learned that in Louisiana the Wildlife and Fisheries agencies have more power and are less restricted than game wardens here in Hawaii,” said Burnett’s son and club member, Jimwell Delos Reyes. “Furthermore, laws and regulations are interpreted differently in each state. Overall it helped me understand a side to conservation and sustainability through law.”
Burnett has served 35 years in the Army and Army Reserve. He has been affiliated with the 599th for 13 years. He again became an IMA for the unit in 2015, and he has served on active duty as the S3 operations sergeant since April 2019. His first activation for the brigade was in 2007 as the training NCO and detachment sergeant while brigade personnel deployed to Kuwait. During that mobilization, he remained on active duty with the 599th until December 2008.