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Wallace D. "Wally" Henderson ( McCall 1946 )

posted: Oct 26, 2021

Wally, 92, died around October 14, 2021, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was born on March 19, 1929, in Hot Springs SD. Moving to Oregon he attended Ontario High School, graduating in 1946.

In 1947, Wally attended Parks Air College, then transferred to the University of Colorado. In 1949, he attended Navel Flight Training, in Pensacola, Florida. He attained a BS in Engineering Physics and a MA in International Relations in 1966.

Wally had a remarkable military career, first with the Navy flying Corsairs and having to plow out of one in 1950. On to the Air Force as a 2nd LT, he was assigned to the 319th Fighter Interceptor Sq. in Korea, even having to bail out once. Wally used his smokejumper parachute training when he was shot down near Seoul, Korea. After a year and 72 missions over North Korea, Wally returned to the states assigned to multiple bases. Eventually he became an Air Force Advisor to the Maine Air National Guard at Bangor ME. Significant positions held included managing programs dealing with aspect of nuclear weapons, Naval War College, National Reconnaissance Org member, Director of Intelligence & Warning Systems. Wally retired in 1973 as a Colonel, and with multiple civilian jobs fully retired in 1999.

Wally continued to fly light aircraft, hot air balloons and gliders, when not traveling the world from his home in Albuquerque NM.

Two months after Wally's 17th birthday, he became a smokejumper assigned to McCall (1946) then Missoula for the 1947 fire season. He jumped 29 times for those two years. Wally was an NSA Life Member.

Kathi Henderson: "Several days before his death I asked Wally what part of his amazing life was he most proud of. He didn't hesitate in his reply when he said 'smokejumping.' For his final day, I put his smokejumper T-shirt on him and gently wrapped him in his smokejumper quilt. He was also cremated in a smokejumper T-shirt and blue jeans. Smokejumping was such an impactful part of an incredible life lived to the fullest!"