William Dinwiddie Tucker, a smokejumper in the early decades of the program, died on January 18, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia, at the age of 94.
His obituary included stories of fires he jumped and his commitment to his smokejumper colleagues.
“One such fire (he jumped) was immortalized in the article ‘I Jump into Hell,’ published in the October 1955 issue of Cavalier magazine, where he was part of a team struggling to get their wounded colleague out of the forest.”
“Bill can also be seen in the 1952 film ‘Red Skies of Montana,’ working alongside Richard Widmark and Jeffrey Hunter. Until recently, Bill 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.”
After three seasons as a smokejumper, Tucker “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.”
His citation for the Distinguished Flying Cross noted “how Bill successfully completed a high priority mission despite his aircraft sustaining significant damage.”
The family requests that donations be made to the National Smokejumper Association, https://smokejumpers.com.