BY KYNLI SMITH
Doris Bohrer was one of the many baby girls born in Basin over the years. Doris Arlene Sharrar was born on Feb. 5, 1923, in Basin to father, Frank, who was a teacher, and mother, Dora, who was a homemaker. But Bohrer went on to become more than just a Basin girl; she became a spy for the Allies during World War II.
Bohrer has western roots. Her father, Frank, travelled with his family to settle in Nebraska in a covered wagon. He then became a teacher and taught and was a coach at Basin High School for nine years. After that the family moved to Reliance, Wyo., where he was a principal and coach for seven years.
Bohrer spent the first 15 years of her life growing up in Wyoming before her family relocated to Sliver Spring, Md., so her father could take a job with the Veterans Administration (now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs).
Bohrer graduated high school from Montgomery Blair High School in 1940 and in 1942 she took the Civil Service exam and was soon offered a position with the O.S.S., a wartime intelligence agency created to run spy operations behind enemy lines.
Like most women first hired, she was assigned clerical work but she quickly advanced. After a year of typing and clerical work, she was posted to Egypt for photoreconnaissance school.
“Everybody else was ‘Lieutenant So-and-So,’ or ‘Captain This,’” said Bohrer to Ann Curry of NBC News in 2013. “We were ‘The Girls.’ … I was doing the exact same thing as majors and lieu-tenant colonels, but I was ‘The Girls.’”
The O.S.S “Bunny”
As part of her work for the O.S.S., Bohrer created balsa-wood relief maps of Sicily as the Allies prepared to invade Italy. After being posted in Egypt, Bohrer went on to be posted in Bari, on the Adriatic coast, and worked jointly with the 15th Air Force studying aerial photographs to select sites for dropping and rescuing O.S.S agents behind enemy lines.
Former O.S.S agent Edward Hymoff wrote about the Noah’s Ark list of O.S.S agents and wrote in the preface of his book, “The O.S.S in World War II,” a quote from Radio Berlin as “50 professors, 20 monkeys, 10 goats, 12 guinea pigs and staff of Jewish scribblers.”
One person that could be added to the list of animals used to describe the O.S.S could be the O.S.S “bunny” which was Bohrer who helped in the efforts to an allied victory and extraction of POWs.
“It was like looking at the world with a magnifying glass,” Bohrer told Curry in a 2013 NBC interview. “It was a little challenging trying to figure out what the Germans were doing, where they were sending the railroad cars, what they were picking up, what they were manufacturing in the factories, how many airplanes were on the airfields.”
Doris noted that the aircrews took photos of their missions and when they returned to base her intelligence unit evaluated the photos.
She said in an interview with the Washington Post in 2011: “That’s how we knew where the concentration camps were located but we were too late. We kept wondering where the trains were going.”
With the Bari being busy with the O.S.S. and the 15th US Air Force in the same location, uni-forms were available except for Bohrer, whose buddies made one for her.
According to the 2014 American ExPOW Bulletin, “Everyone also had a distinctive shoulder patch but Doris had none. (Disney Studios had been rendering specialized patches for various military units containing one or another of the Disney animated characters.) On the other hand, Doris had her beloved stuffed, long, orange-eared bunny, who wore a small letter-bead ID brace-let saying “Bohrer Jr.” An impromptu artist in the Bari OSS/15AF HQ crowd picked up one of the working aerial photos and on the back, penciled then penned a jaunty, completely individualized “Buzz Bunny,” complete with cigarette, a 15th AF white star on a white neck scarf, and renderings of a beloved aircraft with its dual fuselages. A local Italian seamstress used this as a pattern to make a one-of-a-kind shoulder patch which Doris wore for the duration.”
Cracking the glass ceiling
According to the National Women’s History Museums website, there were about 13,000 O.S.S workers during the agency’s peak in 1944 and about 4,500 of those workers were female. Of those 4,500 females, roughly one-third (1,500) were assigned overseas.
Bohrer had to find her place in a world that was still dominated by the men surrounding her.
“When my grandmother was first stationed overseas in North Africa with the O.S.S she was not issued a weapon for personal protection. She was one of the girls and girls didn’t carry guns,” wrote her grandson Jason Bohrer Jr.
Bohrer said that because women could not carry guns, O.S.S male agents insisted on escorting her around everywhere she went. She finally demanded to be armed and was issued a Browning and a shoulder holster which gave her more freedom.
She soon asked to be able to carry a hand grenade like the Yugoslav partisan she was working with, but her request was denied. After that Bohrer came up with a plan to dupe her fellow male O.S.S. agents.
“I had an engineer friend make me a disabled grenade,” Bohrer said to NBC.
The O.S.S officer who denied Bohrer her request for a grenade, saw her with it at lunch and said, “Honey, I’m going to reach over now and take it from you before anyone gets killed.”
She slammed the grenade on the table.
“When I reached for the handle, the boys went out the windows. They just disappeared. And I sat there and ate my salad.”
Bohrer’s son Jason said that as a kid he didn’t fully understand and realize what his mom did during the war.
“I’m very proud,” said Jason. “Looking back it is incredible what she did and accomplished.”
In 2013, Bohrer and another former O.S.S female spy traveled back to the CIA headquarters where they both ended up working after the war ended.
The two women spoke to current female CIA agents. In the NBC article the two said they were blown away with how far women could come since they were just “girls.”
Bohrer said at the time she was looking forward to seeing the first female CIA director.
“I’m sure she’ll be extra, extra, extra capable, because they always have to be better than the male for the job,” said Bohrer. “I don’t know who, but it’ll have to be a special woman who can handle it.”
After the war
After the war, Bohrer married her husband, Charles and continued working for the O.S.S until the successor organization, the C.I.A. was formed in 1947. She was posted in Frankfurt where she wrote intelligence reports on German scientists who were held by the Soviet Union. She then returned to Washington and served as deputy chief of counterintelligence.
Bohrer’s husband also worked for the C.I.A. as a doctor.
“I really didn’t know what my parents did,” said Bohrer’s son Jason. “I knew she went to an office. In my late high school or early college years I learned what they did and I even got to work with them one summer.”
She retired from the C.I.A and entered civilian life in 1979. Bohrer soon started to get into real estate and enjoyed gardening and spending time with her poodles.
“She was a hard worker and had high expectations,” said Jason. “She also liked to follow world events and was troubled about what was going on in the world now.
Bohrer passed away at the age of 93 in Greensboro, N.C. on Aug. 8.
After her death her son commented how amazing his mother’s accomplishments were and how far she came in her life. She went from being born in small town in Wyoming, to World War II spy, to wife, mother, CIA agent to grandmother and dog lover.
He added that young boys and girls from small towns like Basin could go far in their lives.
“(Look) how far a young woman went back then from Basin, Wyoming…think about what they could do now.”
BY KYNLI SMITH
BY BARBARA ANNE GREENE
Search and Rescue teams were busy over the weekend with three separate incidents on the Big Horn Mountains.
The first involved a 12-year-old boy from Powell who got separated from his boy scout troop while hiking in the Black Mountain area. Benjamin Kellett was missing for 33 hours before he was found. Sheridan Search and Rescue was the lead agency on the search but did get back up from South Big Horn County Search and Rescue (SBHCSR).
The other agencies involved were the Sheridan County Sheriff’s office, U.S. Forest Service, Johnson County Search and Rescue, Wyoming National Guard and Wyoming State Forestry Division. There were also two K-9 units brought in — one from Cody, one from Douglas.
Kellett was found southeast of Black Mountain in the Wolf Creek drainage area. He was dressed in sweatpants and hoodie.
The second rescue involved a 20-year-old man from Illinois. He and his friends were hiking the loop around Paintrock Lakes. The last time the six hikers were in a group was at Tee Pee Flats. From there they started hiking out and got spread out from each other. Big Horn County Sheriff Ken Blackburn said that this happens quite often and that groups need to hike as fast as the slowest hiker in the group.
Blackburn said that Daniel Lindsey Paulson was the last hiker in the group and the most inexperienced. There is a portion of the trail that isn’t very well marked. The rest of the group went the correct way but Paulson did not. The rest of the group hiked all the way to Elk View Lodge before calling for help.
Because the Civil Air Patrol and Air Force had already been in the air searching for the 12-year-old, they were unable to start looking for Paulson until after they had the required hours of sleep and maintenance done on their crafts. Blackburn said Kellett was given priority because he had been missing longer and had no survival equipment.
Horse and foot patrols from SBHCSR spent 14 hours on the search and put on a lot of miles during the search. The hiker was eventually spotted under a tree thanks to a Civil Air Patrol fixed-wing which had Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR). They were able to direct the helicopter to the general area.
Paulson told rescuers that he had heard the plane but didn’t have time to build a fire to signal it before it was out of range. When he heard the helicopter, he built a fire which was able to direct the team right to his location.
Blackburn said that Paulson was actually out of the original search area by a few miles. He had walked a lot faster and further than anticipated. “If he had stayed put we would have had him sooner,” said Blackburn. He hopes that is a lesson others will pay attention to when they explore the wilderness.
The third rescue was led by North Big Horn County Search and Rescue. Derrick Lehman, 28, of Gillette, was preparing to take off near Medicine Wheel for a hang gliding adventure. According to Blackburn, Lehman was in the rest position when a gust of wind flipped him and the glider over. He was dragged backwards and sustained minor injuries. Search and Rescue was able to pack him to a waiting ambulance. He was transported to North Big Horn County Hospital.
“Working with these agencies and their planes and helicopters has been a real blessing. We’ve been on six rescue missions this year. Each one has ended successfully and quickly. I’m sure we have saved hundreds of man hours. “ Blackburn noted.
He had high praise for Civil Air, the Air Force, REACH and Saint Vincent’s air teams. “It has made a huge difference for the victims.”
BY KYNLI SMITH
In the evening in Basin, one can drive along the small town streets past the courthouse, the library or Henderson Field and see people with their cell phones out actively searching. They are not searching for a signal or checking Facebook. They are playing a new game, Pokemon Go.
Pokemon Go was launched in early July and can be downloaded on Apple and Android de-vices. The game takes players on a journey between the virtual world and the reality.
“It’s great seeing kids running around and getting off their butts rather than sitting at home playing a video game,” said Gary Hibbert, who on Monday evening was outside the Big Horn County Courthouse with his girlfriend, Alexis Smith, battling their Pokemons against others.
“It gets me out of my house and I’m not so lazy now,” said Smith.
Fans of Pokemon when they were kids, they have been playing for about a week and have spent the last several nights gaining more Pokemon and battling others all around Basin and the surrounding areas.
“You also get to meet a lot of people you would never meet if you weren’t playing the game,” said Hibbert. “Last night a group of us were just sitting around the flagpole trying to gain control of the gym.”
So far Hibbert has about 44 Pokemons collected while Smith has about 100.
HOW IT WORKS
After players download and log into the Pokemon Go app, they create an avatar. After the avatar is created to the player’s liking, it is displayed on a map of the player’s current surroundings.
The game uses AR (augmented reality) as well as Google Maps that make it extremely accurate in a player’s location. The game also has an expansive database on real-world objects submitted by players to make up the Pokestops
On the map players can see PokeStops and Pokemon gyms. The stops provide players with eggs and Pokeballs and other equipment. The gyms serve as battle locations for teams to gain control of the gym.
“I’m surprised more kids aren’t playing,” said Nicholas Unruh. “We have been seeing a ton of adults.”
Unruh, who as of Monday evening currently had control of the gym in Basin which is located out of the Big Horn County Courthouse. Unruh is on team red.
There are three teams that currently battle for control of the gym red, yellow and blue.
“The gym is where you go and do battle,” said Unruh. You try to control the gym because you get bonus points for control. I may have control of the gym now, but it changes daily.
According to Unruh most Pokestops are at nonprofit, art related or public buildings. For ex-ample in Basin there are Pokestops at the library, courthouse, post office, Henderson Field and the Town of Basin office.
More gyms can also be added to a town depending on the number of players in the location. For example, Greybull has three gyms.
“They intentionally designed the game to get people out to where you have to go to the locations,” said Unruh. “It’s good it gets people out moving but you mostly interact with people on your phone, still.”
He added that the app has been glitchy lately, but said that it was nice because it’s a free game for people to play.
CHANGING THE GAME
Since Pokemon Go’s launch in early July, the net worth of its creator, Nintendo, has risen into the billons.
It also appears to be not only a Basin phenomenon but also a world phenomenon. The game is also bringing out first-time players and introducing people to the world of Pokemon.
“This is my first time playing Pokemon,” said Lacosta Davis.
The game is also the first ap of its kind to successfully blend the physical world and the virtual world. While the AR plays a minimal role in the actual game, and players can only use the feature when catching a Pokemon, businesses are starting to use it to their advantage.
According to Time’s Tim Bajarin, “There are already examples of stores using a Lure (a virtual object that lures Pokémon to a specific location) in order to get people to their retail locations. After posting a Lure, some restaurants I have talked to report business up as much as 25 percent as people try and find a Pokémon in or near these eating establishments. Now, cross this thinking with how stores may battle something like Amazon, which does not have more than a couple of physical locations. Physical retail’s best tactic against Amazon is technology. Most retailers sim-ply don’t use it effectively. This is the start of something interesting when local businesses can start taking advantage of blending the physical and digital in ways that online-only players can-not. This is augmented reality perhaps in a way we had not considered before. Think about it as digital overlaying the physical with graphics and adding location and geodata in new and creative ways. It’s hard to predict where this goes. But we are clearly seeing a social movement here in ways we had not before.”
This change in the game could potentially affect local businesses in Basin in the future where they could use it to their advantage. But for now players plan to continue searching high and low for Pokemons around town and will be battling it with their phones in front of the courthouse.
“Just go everywhere,” said Hibbert “Catch as many of them as you can.”