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DON MACKEY

MISSOULA SMOKEJUMPERS  |  Missoula, MT

Don Mackey, born May 23, 1960, grew up in western Montana and graduated from Hamilton High School in the Bitterroot Valley. Don loved the mountains and the open spaces. He hunted, fished and trapped from an early age and was very good at it. Don's first love was his family, and when he wasn't working his two children were always with him. He took them horseback riding and taught them to shoot.

Don started firefighting in 1984 on the Bitterroot National Forest and was a hotshot in 1985 and 1986. He became a Missoula smokejumper in 1987 and after jumping for eight years, received a career appointment. Don took great pride in being a smokejumper and was very dedicated to his job and crew. When the South Canyon Fire blew up, Don directed eight smokejumpers to a safe zone. He died doing what he did best-fighting fires. His loyalty and concern for his fellow firefighters will always be remembered.