Coming up this weekend there is an historic event taking place that you may not know much about, but there are ties to Montana. This weekend on April 13th in Pendleton, Oregon will be a commemorative event honoring the 555th Airborne division. They were a military division that was augmented with conscientious objectors and filled ranks of smokejumpers during WWII. Their job was to help fight potential fires in the Northwest from balloons that had incendiary devices on them released into the jet stream by the Japanese.

Montana Will Be Represented At this Historic Event

Among the many people that will be attending the event are are two Montana jumpers. Keith "Skid" Wolferman, a retired smokejumper, and Drew Pattison who is a current smokejumper are planning on attending. Salvador Napoleon Garnica is a retired smokejumper who jumped out of Grangeville, Idaho and will also be participating in the event.

All Airborne Battalion Operation Firefly
Credit: All Airborne Battalion via Facebook

Smokejumpers are Real Heroes

It's not everyday that I get to write about people who I think are true heroes. Smokejumpers to me are real heroes that don't get enough of the credit they deserve. They parachute out of airplanes into some of the most gnarly terrain in our country wearing over 100 pounds of equipment. They work tirelessly risking their safety to fight wildland fires. They help protect people, their homes and their land. They sleep on the ground at night and then get up and do it all over again the next day. All of this for very surprisingly little pay.

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Smokejumpers Are Real Heroes

If they are lucky smokejumpers can sometimes do their jobs for decades. They battle injuries, pain, smoke, and being away from friends and families for a lot of the year. They really are true heroes and for them to take the time to honor the ones that started it all is pretty amazing. This spring in Montana, keep your eyes to the skies as new and seasoned smokejumpers train to do their jobs for another season.

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