Reflections from David Beals

Reflections from David Beals

The following is an excerpt written by David Beals and published in "Static Lines and Canopies" in which he discusses his time spent as a smoke jumper in Missoula Camp 103 and describes an event involving racial discrimination:


"Training in Missoula went well, except for one chute opening when my Eagle banged open so hard that it snapped my helmet off. Other than a sore neck for a while there was no other damage.

I went to McCall immediately following my training and stayed there for that summer and met very few of my fellow-jumpers in #103.

I recall a fire where we jumped on Cow Creek. There were two Travelaire loads, and Ed Nafziger and I jumped from one of them. Ed always jumped an Eagle, just because he liked them best. On this trip he came out of the plane and of course his Eagle whammed real hard, so hard in fact that it collapsed for a moment and then whammed again. This time it was so hard that it snapped the straps off his shoes and his suspenders! And, his Eagle lost three load lines to boot. If he hadn't had a harness on he would have been lost. But the next time he jumped, he had to have another Eagle.

On another fire, I remember, up in the Wallowa Mountains in Northeast Oreagon, we not only had a load of CPS jumpers, but a DC-3 load of the black paratroopers from Pendleton. Most of these men were city people, and so far as fire-fighting was concerned were really out of their element, and were not really effective in the work and so we could not be relieved after they arrived.

On one occasion out of Winthrop, Mr. Lufkin, Supervisor and spotter, always had the pilots slow down the plane for jumping the white jumpers, but ordered the pilots to fly high speed for the black paratroopers. One more subtle form of race discrimination in the ranks.

Following the war, in 1947-48, I got on again with jumping at Winthrop because Mr. Lufkin would now hire former CPS men. In 1964 I came to the Redmond jumper unit and served as a chute-packer, and then became foreman and trainer for chute-packers until I retired there in 1976, after 29 years in the Forest Service Smoke jumpers, and the 1945 CPS year at McCall."


--Taken from Static Lines and Canopies: Stories from the Smoke Jumpers of 1943-1945 Civilian Service Camp 103, Missoula, Montana. Ed. Asa Mundell. Beaverton: 1993. Print.