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John Kiernan “Jack” Dunn ( Missoula 1946 )

posted: Apr 5, 2021


Jack died March 19, 2021. He was born December 25, 1925, in Spokane, Washington. He started his Forest Service work during WWII in 1943 on the Libby Ranger District. He went into the Army Air Force in late ’43 and was a tail gunner on a B-29. The 29’s flew out of Guam and were involved in those dangerous missions over the Japanese mainland. Jack flew 30+ missions and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and several other air medals.

Back from the war in 1946, Jack and a friend applied for smokejumping and were accepted. Both were sawyers and that probably helped as he was the “tool man” at Missoula during his career there. He jumped four seasons (46-49) while attending Western Montana College at Dillon and getting his teaching credential. Jack taught 5th and 6th grade for 33 years, mostly in Whitefish. Jack had 15 fire jumps over those four seasons.

Jack’s teaching career came to a close in 1985, but when he was even in his 90’s, he would be recognized by former students who remembered his walls of chalk boards and how he made lessons come alive.

To show that jumpers are the same, whatever the generation, in a 2004 interview with Smokejumper magazine, Jack recounts the time when a circus moved into town at the Fairgrounds. There was a baby elephant that was “borrowed” and taken to the barracks. When the late night drinkers arrived, some of them must have sworn off the bottle when they opened the door.