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William Dinwiddie “Bill” Tucker ( Missoula 1950 )

posted: Jan 30, 2023

Lt. Col. William Dinwiddie “Bill” Tucker USAF (Ret.), 95, of Arlington, Virginia, died January 18, 2023. He was raised in Washington, DC, and graduated from Central High School in 1948. Bill graduated from the University of Maryland in 1953, where he was a Track & Field athlete competing in middle distance and hurdles, a football player, and a wrestler, with a degree in Physical Education.

In 1950, Bill went to Missoula, Montana, where he jumped 1950-52. He had ten practice jumps and nine fire jumps. Bill can also be seen in the 1952 film “Red Skies of Montana,” working alongside Richard Widmark and Jeffrey Hunter. Until recently, he returned periodically to Montana for smokejumper reunions where he would work on clearing trails and reminisce over cold bottles of Moose Drool beer with his friends.

In 1953, Bill joined the USAF Reserves, transitioning to active duty in 1961. He served as a USAF Military Pilot and Aircraft Commander with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (Hurricane Hunters) at Ramey AFB in Puerto Rico. In Vietnam, Bill served as a Pilot and Instructor flying C-123s and C-130s on transport and defoliation missions. After the war ended, Bill went back into the USAF Reserves, working at Andrews AFB with the 459th Congressional Wing until he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1979.

The citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross notes how Bill successfully completed a high priority mission despite his aircraft sustaining significant damage. He also flew several transport missions during the Battle of Khe Sanh.

Received from Todd Hunter: “I am sending along respect on behalf of my father, the late actor Jeffrey Hunter, who worked with Lt. Col. Tucker on the film “Red Skies of Montana. This is how I, my father, and Lt. Col. are connected—Smoke jumpers. Naturally, I am proud to be associated with such incredible heroes.”