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Author Topic: Smokejumpers  (Read 25033 times)

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Offline Ron Scott

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Smokejumpers
« on: November 13, 2009, 10:19:23 am »
The following obituary articles on Earl Cooley may be of interest to anyone interested in the USFS Smokejumpers. 

http://www.missoulian.com/news/local/article_ad9b7016-cf4e-11de-9502-001cc4c03286.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/12/AR2009111210858.html
~Ron

Offline Tom

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2009, 02:47:10 pm »
Thanks Ron,
You will never know how thankful I am that you make these kinds of posts.  Foresters and Forestry have marked this world so deeply and positively, yet it is a hidden profession.  If it weren't for a few like you who make little articles visible, we would all miss out on one of the greatest professions in the modern world.

It's too bad that those who forward email don't see things like this as important notes to send on, rather than superfluous fluff that jams the airwaves and internet lines.

Cooley's passing is definitely a mark in history worthy of recognizing.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2009, 06:29:02 pm »
Yes, the smokejumpers are a unique group. I strongly recommend their ranks to any forestry student who has had a season of firefighting employment as a firefighter. Many don't know that they individually make and sew their own kevlar jump suits. If there is any "screw ups", it's their own fault. ;)

I wonder how many have seen the movie, " The Red Skys of Montana" with Richard Widmark. I've seen it at least 4 times.
~Ron

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2009, 10:48:56 pm »
I have lived and worked along side of and around many Smokejumpers over the years and they are a tough bunch of dudes. I could tell you stories that you wouldn't believe, but are true. Suffice it to say, that MacLean's book , Young Men and Fire, will curl your hair. If you live east of the Rockies, you can't imagine what it is to be a smokejumper and do what they do. My hat's off to all smokejumpers as they are the best of the best.
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Offline ErikC

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2009, 04:21:17 pm »
  What a great legacy for him to leave behind. I have been around a good number of them too, and a couple of the guys I was in school with are jumpers. They are a unique bunch, and enjoyable to work around.
  McLean's book should be read by anyone who lives where there is fire in my opinion, if only to help them understand what firefighting entails. It would build respect for firefighters and perhaps some people would be less careless with fire. His son John McLean wrote "Fire on the mountain", about a similar tragedy on Storm King mountain in CO. I have read them both several times and will again I'm sure.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 05:36:02 pm »
Yes, they are recommended reading.
~Ron

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 08:51:38 pm »
Also a good "oldies" movie. A take off on the deadly Mann Gulch fire.

 

~Ron

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 11:18:16 pm »
I have never seen that movie, thanks for posting. I have a hard time thinking that Hollywierd could come close to making a movie that was close to the book, but I really like Richard Widmark, so I will pass judgement until after watching.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2009, 11:18:31 am »
It's really not that close to the book, but just a Hollywood movie version.
~Ron

Offline pappy19

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 05:46:15 pm »
Most of those old movies were too much Hollywood, but I ordered it last night from a web site.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2009, 07:52:51 pm »
Smokejumper Ready Room. At the smokejumper base, Missoula, Montana, 9/09. The bell will ring, and this area will soon get very active as the "on call" crew of smokejumpers respond to quickly get in the air for attack on a fire on the Cleveland National Forest in southern California.

 

~Ron

Offline madhatte

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2009, 03:06:52 pm »
I recently had the good fortune to meet a friend of mine's father, who was among the first generation of Alaska smokejumpers, circa 1957-59.  His career was long and storied, and he has the tattoos and photographs to prove it.  I'm a lowly part-time engine slug;  smokejumpers are firefighting royalty, and the pioneers of this most dangerous profession are all the more so. 

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2009, 03:30:41 pm »
Two of my classmates in Forestry at IA State were smokejumpers during the summers ('57, '59, '60). They trained in Missoula, MT and I believe worked out of there as well. They had some interesting stories. In the early 60's, the FS started training Army jumpers, because the techniques used by the smokejumpers were so advanced in chute control. (that is how I remember it anyway  :) )
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2009, 09:54:17 am »
That is true on their training the Army jumpers in techniques. No USFS Smokejumpers have yet been lost to the jump itself and they land in trees quite often as one of their techniques. Their losses have been in the actual ground firefighting. One of their "oldtimers" has made over 500 jumps.
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Offline Phorester

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2009, 08:39:11 am »
Very interesting man.  Thanks for posting this Ron.

Smokejumpers were tried in VA in the 1970s.  Some of the western jumpers were brought in for part of one fire season, I believe, but were not found to be cost efficient due to the relative ease of ground access into forestland in VA.
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2009, 10:31:47 pm »
Yes, they say that the hardest part of smokejumping is the "long walk out".
~Ron

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2009, 11:23:59 pm »
  About that long walk...I have packed out tools and some gear to lighten the load for several jumper crews with the mules. They all were happy to see me :D
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2009, 07:51:22 pm »
A Smokejumper Quickly Suits Up To Board The Plane For The Assigned Fire.

The fire protectant undergarment is on.




The outer kevlar jump suit is now on with a tree repelling line in the leg pocket.



~Ron

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2009, 10:34:34 pm »
A book that I really enjoyed was Jumping Fire: A Smokejumperís Memoir Of Fighting Wildfire by Murry A. Taylor.

     "A veteran smokejumper recounts his three decades parachuting out of planes and fighting wildfires in the rugged West,
       told within the framework of one thrilling season."

http://www.jumpingfire.com/

Offline Ron Scott

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Re: Smokejumpers
« Reply #19 on: November 26, 2009, 10:22:02 am »
Safety check. Smoke jumpers make a safety check on one another. They insure that each is "hooked up" properly and correctly for the fire suppression jump. Here the check is made by a crew boss waiting the next rotation out. You can get an idea of their pysical fitness level from his appearance.

 

~Ron