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NSA Solicits Information, Photos to Honor KIA Jumpers

by Carl Gidlund |

Take a look at the In Memoriam section of this Web site. You may be able to provide some valuable information.

The National Smokejumper Association has initiated a program to honor the 30 Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management smokejumpers who have been killed in the line of duty, but it needs your help in the form of information and photos.

NSA President Ron Stoleson explained the NSA has fabricated 13 plaques that list the dead jumpers’ names, their training bases, the year each trained, the location of the fire or other incident that took their lives, and the dates of their deaths.

The plaques will be presented during 2003 to the nine active jump bases plus the National Interagency Fire Center, the National Forest Service Museum, the Museum of Mountain Flying and the Evergreen Aviation Museum.

“We’ve also assembled what we’ve learned about the jumpers’ lives and the circumstances of their deaths,” Stoleson said, “but we’re missing vital information on half the men and we don’t have photos of any of the 30. Those are two areas where we really need help.”

The president explained the information on the jumpers’ lives and deaths plus their photos will be incorporated into booklets that will accompany the plaques to the bases and museums. It’s also accessible in the “In Memoriam” section of this Web site.“In addition, we’re inviting donations to help pay for the plaques, which cost $300 each,” he said. Stoleson explained the names of donors or their organizations will be listed on the first page of each of the booklets and on the Web page. Donations are being accepted in three categories: platinum level for those who donate $300 or more, gold for donations of $150 to $299, and silver, for those who donate up to $149.

Stoleson said information is needed on the lives of Leonard Piper, Henry Thol, Jr., Newton Thompson, Silas Thompson and Joseph Sylvia, all Missoula jumpers who were killed in the Mann Gulch Fire of August 1949.

In addition, the NSA doesn’t know the life stories of Keith Hendrickson, Gerald Helmer and Robert Carlman, North Cascades jumpers killed in a 1958 plane crash; Kenneth Salyer, a McCall jumper killed in a 1965 plane crash; Arden Davis, a Fairbanks jumper who died in a 1966 parachute accident; Tommy Smith, Cave Junction, who drowned in 1961; Thomas Regginetter, Redding, who died in a 1970 parachute accident; Bill Martin, LaGrande, killed in a parachute accident in Missoula in 1991; and Don Mackey, Missoula, killed in the 1994 Storm King Mountain Fire.

Finally, the association knows neither the life story nor the circumstances of death related to Steven Grammer, a Redding jumper killed in a helicopter accident on the Angeles National Forest in 1970.

Information on the KIA jumpers and photos of them should be sent to Carl Gidlund whose e-mail address is gidlund1@earthlink.net. His mailing address is 9232 N. Clarkview Place, Hayden Lake, ID 83835.