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Mouse Owen Makes Smokejumpers Laugh

Among those honored by the Siskiyou Smokejumper Base Museum is Allen Owen, known by his fellow parachute firefighters as Mouse.

Owen was 4 feet 11 inches tall, and weighed about 112 pounds. He sought Congressional support to become a U.S. Marine and another intervention to become a smokejumper.  He served three tours in Vietnam before becoming a smokejumper.

Owen couldn’t walk as fast as his taller companions, but when he carried his 160-pound pack, it was said he weakened the others by making them laugh so hard they had to slow down.  The Mouse was a wisecracker and a constant talker. Kids loved him. When he helped find a lost Boy Scout troop, he requested a cargo drop of hot dogs, ice cream and marshmallows. That led to an annual training jump into a local Bible camp with ice cream. At annual Fourth of July parties, he dressed as Superman and parachuted down with goodies.

Owen was an excellent firefighter and parachutist.  According to fellow smokejumper Troop Edmonds, “Everyone who worked with him was inspired.”

After Edmonds and Owen became smokejumpers in Alaska, Mouse died in a skydiving accident on Sept. 9, 1981.

 

Sources:  Buck, Gary, Tales from the Collection talk given at Southern Oregon Historical Society Library, May 21, 2016;  Edmonds, Troop. "The Tiniest Marine, the Smallest Smokejumper." Smokejumper Apr. 2001: 11-18. Web. 26 May 2016.

 https://smokejumpers.com/documents/magazine_pdfs/smokejumper-2001-04-3.8MB.pdf; "Obituaries: Allen D. "Mouse" Owen ( Cave Junction 1970 )." National Smokejumper Association. National Smokejumper Association, 1 Jan. 2002. Web. 26 May 2016. .

Pat Harper is the archivist for the Southern Oregon Historical Society, where she digitizes records, manages websites and learns more about regional history from the SOHS volunteers. After receiving her Master’s Degree in library science from the University of Illinois in 1980, Harper worked as a reference librarian, then as a library administrator. From 1994 to 2005, she was the Siskiyou County library director and lived in the country near Hornbrook, California.