David Beals


Charlie Bragdon, Bruce Van Voorhis, Nick Sundt



Download Audio Interview (176.2 MB)

Download Transcript of David Beals Interview (787 KB)


David “Skinny” Beals talks about being a conscientious objector [CO] to World War Two and how this led to his involvement in smokejumping in the 1940s. He discusses the early days of smokejumping and talks about the various changes in equipment and technology that he has seen since he first began. Beals recalls his rookie training experiences and describes the changes to the training program in the 1970s and ‘80s. He also talks about being one of the first jumpers to work out of the Redmond, Oregon Air Base. Beals discusses fire lookouts and how they worked with smokejumpers during the 1940s and 1950s. He also shares stories about mistakenly reported fires. Beals expresses concern about women working as smokejumpers. He also discusses the relationship between conscientious objectors and soldiers during and after World War Two. Beals concludes by recalling a memorable jump he completed on a fire in Washington’s Gifford Pinchot National Forest in 1956.


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Document Type

Oral History


Smokejumpers; U.S. Forest Service; Firefighting; Conscientious Objector; Civilian Public Service program; Winthrop, Oregon smokejumper base; Redmond, Oregon smokejumper base; Francis Lufkin; World War, 1939-1945; Women smokejumpers; Gender disparity, smokejumpers; Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

Original Date


Time Period

Twentieth century

Geographic Coverage




Original Collection

Nick Sundt Smokejumpers Oral History Project, OH 172, Archives and Special Collections, Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula

Digital Publisher

University of Montana--Missoula. Mansfield Library


Copyright to this collection is held by the interview participants and by the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, University of Montana-Missoula. Permission may be required for use. For further information please contact Archives and Special Collections: (406) 243-2053 / library.archives@umontana.edu

Oral History Number

OH 172-005, 006, 007a

Media Type

Sound; Text

Original Format

3 sound cassettes (03:00:00 min.) analog + 1 transcript (62 p.: 28 cm.)

Digital Format

audio/mp3; application/pdf

Run Time

02:29:08 minutes

Local Filename

OH_172_005_006_007a.mp3; OH_172_005_006_007a.pdf