I began this book about my father-in-law, Allen because although we lived in the same community and attended the same church, I really didn't feel that I knew him. I suspect that my sisters-in-law; Janne O'Donnell and Ann Peyton Moyer might have shared the same sentiment.
By the time Chuck and I had moved to Deer Creek, Oklahoma to help out with the farming operation, Allen had been recently diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. Conversations with him were difficult at best. I had difficulty understanding him and he had difficulty hearing me!
Chuck would make reference of his Dad's service to our country during the Second World War. Allen was not one to brag or overly exaggerate his involvement with the Civilian Public Service as a smokejumper. He was a very humble man with strong moral convictions of pacificism. Some questioned the patriotism of a conscientious objector and their loyalty to the country, believing only those who served in the Armed Forces could be true patriots. However, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Conscientious Objectors or CO's were deeply patriotic. In some cases they were willing to risks their lives for their country by volunteering as human guinea pigs. Allen makes reference to this in his letter, dated Feb. 14, 1943. "One of the groups can't bathe and must carry the typhus louse. Others drink sea water to see how much their bodies can stand so the army or navy can instruct their men how much sea water they can drink if stranded." A select group of men served as smokejumpers, which provided security of their country and protected its citizens from forest fires. They received no ticker tape parades or acknowledgement of their service. They were content to return to their communities and live ordinary law-abiding lives. Undoubtedly, their services were game-changers for all of us. They were indeed the true patriots!
I would later learn the role that Allen and other CPS'ers, as non-combatants,played in a most critical time in our nation's history. Allen and others served as smokejumpers, for the United States Forest Service. They served in Colorado, Idaho, and Montana, protecting American lives and property at the risk of their own lives, during World War II.
The use of smokejumpers was a new concept in fighting forest fires. The Forest Service had experimented in the 1920's dropping water bombs. By 1939 it was decided to shift from dropping water bombs to experimenting with parachute jumping.
Candidates were trained at the U.S. Army headquarters".  The newly organized smokejumpers were flown over hot spots to fight fires. "By 1941 the Forest Service Department found itself greatly undermanned because of the War. All able-bodied men were enlisting into the Armed Services and the job of fighting the forest fires was limited to a handful of men who has been rejected by the Armed Forces because of physical flaws and to boys too young to be drafted. It was a case of make do and do without."
In the book Trimotor and Trail by Earl Cooley,Mountain Press Publishing Co. 1984, Earl Cooley wrote, "By the Spring of 1943, the manpower shortage had reached a critical state ....All CPS camps were solicited for volunteers. After carefully sorting 300 applica- tions, 60 candidates were selected, a majority of whom were from the "peace churches"; Mennonites, Brethren and Friends."
It was amazing reading through Allen's letters to his family about his service with the CPS and his interest in serving. In some of his letters he mentions building bridges, blazing trails and helping with road construction. However, there was definitely an element of danger with fighting forest fires. In my opinion Allen and the other 59 men, who chose to serve, were crucial in making the Smokejumpers the elite group it is today.
While researching Allen's life, I developed a deep respect and awe for this down-to- earth farmer from Deer Creek, Oklahoma. His life was devoted to making a change for the better for those he loved and cared for deeply. He did so with a quiet a resolve. Hence the name of this book.
Copyright Rose Moyer, 2015, All rights reserved.