Author's Next Book
Brave and Crazy Innocence:
The Alaska Smokejumpers - 1973
In Brave and Crazy Innocence I return to the summer of 1973 and tell the story of--what those of us that lived them call--the T-hangar days. Simply stated, it is Alaska smokejumping at its wildest and most freewheeling time. It is the summer of the beginning of the Alaska pipeline and Fairbanks is filling up with gambling parlors and dancing girls. From our comfortable barracks and tent frames on the lush, green banks of the Chena River, a new District Manager, bent on getting rid of smokejumpers in Alaska, moves us into an abandoned WW II Russian hangar on Fort Wainwright. It has no running water, no electricity and no heat. A few on the crew, fresh home from the Vietnam War, are carrying a fair amount of wounds, both physically and mentally. Half are transfers or no-rehires from jump bases in the Lower 48 where they couldn't conform to the various stricter forms of authority. Being stuck on Fort Wainwright in a cold and dreary hangar, surrounded by chain link fences and gravel lots, and patrolled by Army Military Police is a recipe for disaster. But, just when things look bleakest, our group of rebels and incorrigibles begin to realize that their new base foreman is a man that trusts in the value of the individual spirit when allowed to express itself freely and without fear. In an odyssey of movement we move back and forth across the state jumping fires on Kodiak, in the shadow of Denali, in the strong winds of Isabel Pass, and out west on the Seward peninsula. By mid-August we are down south jumping fires out of the North Cascade Smokejumper Base in North Central Washington, La Grande in Northeastern, Oregon, then on to Montana and Idaho. To read Brave and Crazy Innocence is to spend a summer with a unlikely crew of misfits and witness, not only its ability to perform minor miracles parachuting to and stopping wildfires, but also to laugh and to play in a raucous celebration of the human spirit and its capacity to heal.
Murry A. Taylor has been a smokejumper since 1965. He divides his time between Alaska and northern California. Jumping Fire is his first book. Taylor's e-mail address is: email@example.com All photographs by Mike McMillan/Spotfire Images Site by Visual Contact