GALVESTON On the war-torn islands of the Pacific during World War II, Galvestonian Sammy Ray was among servicemen-scientists shifting between skirmishes to specimen collecting.

A medic with the 1st Marine Division, he worked during lulls in combat to shoot, skin and stuff unusual birds then mail them to the Smithsonian Institution. At times, Ray used a slingshot to ensure he was not mistaken for an enemy sniper.

People couldn t understand why someone would do such a foolish thing, Ray said, a professor at Texas A&M University at Galveston.

It served a purpose for me in that, except in one operation, it was the thing that kept me from worrying about what was going to happen when we landed.

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