First Jump of 1944 Season, by Allen Moyer

This was written by Allen Moyer when he was a smokejumper for the United States Forest Service. It was likely written in 1944. This is transcribed from a hand written account on U.S. Forest Service, Civilian Public Service, Camp No. 103 stationery. A fire near Seely Lake in Western Montana is described.

On July 5, 1944, at 5: P.M. Morrell Mountain Lookout reported a smoke. The plane, Travelair, was ordered soon after and we ate supper at 5:30 as usual. At 6: Wag Dodge designated Paul Shrock and myself, Allen Moyer, to jump. We loaded the equipment on the truck and took it to the landing strip where we suited up. The plane arrived at 6:50, we crawled in, loaded our fire packs and took off immediately.

We flew over toward the base of of Morrell Mountain and looked for the smoke. The smoke was hugging the ground so we didn't spot it until we had flown over the area until 7:20. Shrock was the first to jump. He was spotted for a small patch of short reproduction. He landed on the edge, his chute hung up in a tree about 30 feet. I jumped next and found that the new method of steering worked excellenty. I turned my chute N.E. thinking the drift was toward the S.W. As I neared the tree tops my chute turned wonderfully as I dodged several snags. About 80 feet up a cross drift hit me & started the chute oscillating. I slammed into a fir about 25 feet from the ground and on the back swing I hit the ground. It was my first backward landing and was an easy one. My chute draped over about 25 lodge poles ranging in size from 8 to 15 feet. I jumped up & waved my streamer, then took off my equipment.

The cargo was dropped 50 feet from my chute. Paul & I had our equipment together and chutes retrieved at 8:20 and in 10 minutes we found the fire, a large yellow pine snag. The fire was confined to the snag so we went to work with the crosscut saw and dropped the snag. We then used moist earth to cool off the hot areas and then knocked all the charred pieces loose & mixed them thoroughly with earth. By 11:30 we had the fire out & the log trenched. We then crawled into our bags & fought mosquitos.

The next morning we carried our equipment to the nearest trail. The packer picked it up and we walked to a road and came back to Seely Lake in a pickup in time for lunch.

This was transcribed by John Moyer in 2016.


clip from The Daily Missoulian, Friday, Jul 7, 1944