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NSA To Dedicate Memorial at NIFC Wednesday June 18

by Chris Sorensen |

The National Smokejumper Association (NSA) will honor 30 smokejumpers killed in the line of duty with a ceremony tomorrow at the Wildland Firefighters Monument at NIFC at 2 p.m.

Ron Stoleson, president of the 1,800-member NSA, will present memorial plaques to NIFC and to the Boise-based BLM smokejumpers. "The 30 deceased smokejumpers died in forest fires, aircraft crashes, parachute accidents, and a drowning since the government began delivering firefighters by parachute in 1939," said Stoleson. "We recently discovered that no one had assembled the names of those men or the circumstances of their deaths. Smokejumpers are 'family,' no matter where or when they jumped -- and our association decided it was time to honor those who sacrificed their lives to preserve our nation's precious natural resources."

One of the NSA's key programs is preserving smokejumping history. The plaques they'll present tomorrow list the names of the smokejumpers, the years and bases where they trained, and the dates and locations of their deaths. A booklet detailing their lives accompanies each plaque.

"We have reasonably complete information on only about half the jumpers killed," said Stoleson. "Each of those men had dreams, aspirations, families, and friends. We want future generations of smokejumpers to be able to identify with them - to know them as something more than mere names on a plaque."

Anyone with information on any of the 30 smokejumpers killed in the line of duty should contact NSA researcher Carl Gidlund, 9232 N. Clarkview Place, Hayden Lake, Idaho 83835, or e-mail him at gidlund1@earthlink.net

More information on the national monument at NIFC is available at wffoundation.org/monument.html and details on tomorrow's memorial are available from Carl Gidlund at (208)772-8299 or Don Smurthwaite at (208)387-5895 or Mike Apicello at (208)387-5460.