Archive for Uncategorized


January 17, 2013

Due to the great financial support of friends and fellow crew members at our 2012 reunion, we have paid all our bills and have been able to donate $3,000 to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation. This was a promise we made and have kept. Oak Grove Hotshots will continue to support our fellow Hotshots as they go into harms way.

Read the details at:

The Oak Grove Hotshot 2012 Reunion was held on May 23, at the Supervisors office of the Angeles National Forest. With over 140 crew members and their families attending from as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska (Dave Maxell) and Huntsville, Alabama (Ron Shurney). The Reunions master of ceremony was George Roby, former Arroyo Seco, District Ranger and Angeles National Forest Supervisor. The Reunion started with members of the Forest Service Honor Guard presenting the American flag and the Pledge of Allegiance. Welcoming former crew members was current Angeles Forest Supervisor Tom Contreras and District Ranger Mike McIntyre. In attendance were five former Oak Grove Superintendents, Tom Ralls (1961-62), George Pond (1963-64), Larry Boggs (1965-71), Chet Cash (1971-73) and Steve Arney (1974-78). Acknowledgements included the Reunion organizers Larry Boggs, Bob Serrato and Steve Arney, as well as those that donated cash and auction items. Doug Beck (crew of 1968) supplied professional photography for the Reunion and Gordon Rowley brought in an impressive historical display of firefighting equipment. Crew members from the Del Rosa, Little Tujunga, Dalton, Chilao and Los Padres Hotshots, also participated. Lively conversations, yarn telling and reacquainting with old friends and crew members continued on at the Embassy Suites Hotel.

More details on our donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation and crew photos to follow.


Comments (5) »

Crew Stories

I was a forester attached to the Oak Grove Hotshots in 1976 through 1978. Whenever the crew was short, I was just 5 minutes from the office so I got called out a lot. I spent two full months with the crew in 1977. Since I am in several pictures with the crew in 1976 and 1977 I thought I would send along a few of my best pictures from the Hog Fire on the Klamath. This was a 9 day assignment on the line and as I recall, we had one hot can meal on a ridge that whole assignment. Now they call this coyote tactics, then it was called “being hung out to dry”. C-Rations…I still can’t look at pork in a can, but I would fight over a the English Toffee in a B-2 unit. Still have my P38 on my key chain, just in case.

Steve Arney had modified his Dodge emblem to read DOG on the front of his pickup truck in 1976. The crew switched the first and the last letters and he didn’t notice until the end of the 1977 fire season. We did have fun.

I retired as the Stanislaus NF Forest Silviculturist. Still working on a Type 2 Incident Management Team as Plans Chief through City of Sonora FD. I had an assignment in September where I saw Bob Serrato who told me about the reunion possibility and your site.

Sorry, I can’t remember the other crew members names in these pictures. I am working our my logistics for attending the reunion. George Roby was my first Ranger when I got picked up.
John Schmechel

The two photos below are of Oak Grove Hot Shot Crew 1-4-2 laying a pipeline from a spring in upper Millard Canyon to Sunset Ridge to a place I believe called Sierra Saddle. It’s a couple miles, give or take, east of the Sunset Ridge Station. If I remember the story correctly, a group of equestrians, maybe a club, stopped there one day and thought it would be nice to have water there for their horses. They passed the hat and collected several hundred dollars and took the money down to the District Ranger at Oak Grove. That summer, 1959, we built the water system. It consisted of a water trough and drinking fountain. A bit of historical trivia.
Dick Willamson.

The Great Oak Grove Shaving Cream Massacre of 1968
A short work of non-fiction
Chuck Grennell

This tale takes place during a time that I was employed on the Oak Grove Hot Shot crew and working in the Angeles National Forest. As the reader of this work might imagine, when a bunch of eighteen-year-olds work and are housed together for a summer, there would be more than a few practical jokes played. This story is the account of one such event. It is specifically chosen (and slightly modified) for its “G” rating. Not everything that happened that summer can be revealed, even after the passage of forty four years.

This is chronicled with some speculation and conjecture that assumes information that is not in the possession of the author. The author would therefore not be in a position to testify, under oath, to all of the details that will be told here. This is, however, chiefly intended to be non-fiction.

The plot was hatched by those two well-known practical jokers Frank Hacker and Paul Evens. They were always known as “Hacker and Evens.” Most of the crew members were called by their last names; that part wasn’t unusual. The unusual part was that their names were perpetually intertwined, linked and paired. They were seldom referred to singly. When their names came up, it was pretty much always as a duo and pretty much always Frank’s name first and Paul’s name second.

I don’t know which one of the two came up with this plan; I’m fairly sure that they both put their minds to it with a will. In the final analysis, they seemed equally at the bottom of the attack.

The Great Oak Grove Shaving Cream Massacre occurred late one night, in the summer of 1968, after the mandatory lights-out time. As I recall that would have been after 10:00 Post Meridian. There were three different wings to the barracks that we all shared. Frank and Paul were together in a smaller wing. The rest of us were spread out in the two larger wings of the building. My associates and I were in the middle barracks wing and either asleep or trying to get there when this all happened.

Without warning the lights in our wing suddenly came on. There stood Hacker and Evens in their boxer shorts. They were each holding a can of Barbasol shaving cream in both hands. And they were both hollering: “Shaving cream fight!” They began running up and down the length of our barracks wing spraying shaving cream on everyone and everything. The reader will easily be able to imagine that they clearly had the advantage in this endeavor. This was partly due to the fact that none of the rest of us had been forewarned about this impending and unwarranted attack. It was sort of the shaving cream version of Pearl Harbor as far as the element of surprise goes. The degree of injury that was inflicted was, of course, considerably less.

The natural reaction of the group under attack was to jump out of bed and try to extract some amount of revenge. The advantage, in this instance, being on the side of the Hacker/Evens team, led to their ability to make good their escape without suffering any retribution at all Or so they thought.

They had apparently worked out most of the details with some degree of precision, including their getaway. They ran off into the night and hid somewhere outside that we never did discover. It turned out that they’d made one small miscalculation in this otherwise brilliant escapade. When they made their egress they had dropped their arsenal on the floor; I suppose that they thought that they might run faster with empty hands. They did run fast and there’s no denying that.

When the posse returned to the barracks, after having given up on finding the shaving cream terrorists, I happened to notice the abandoned cans of shaving cream on the floor of the barracks. An idea came to me that I felt a need to act on. I don’t know that I would have done this without the extreme provocation that had led up to all of this.

I grabbed up all four cans of shaving cream and completely emptied the remaining contents into each of Hacker/Evens’ bunks. I pulled the sheets and blankets back up to the top. I disposed of the empty cans in the bathroom waste basket, so as not to leave any obvious clues behind.

Much, much later that night I knew exactly when they had returned. The rest of the crew did, too. Everyone woke up to hear a very loud chorus of “Oh, no! Oh, crap! Not this!” and other spontaneous utterances that I’ll leave to the imagination of the reader, this story having a “G” rating.

I don’t know that Frank or Paul ever did know who accomplished this successful counterattack. I don’t recall that I ever took credit for it prior to the writing of this story. I am writing this now so that I can send it to Frank’s widow Mrs. Gisela Hacker. I had told her that I’d try to come up with something that I could remember about that summer that I’d spent with the Hacker and Evens duo. Frank passed away way too early. His kids were young and didn’t get normal lifetime to get to know their Dad. I hope that this story will let them know that he had a good (if somewhat unusual) sense of humor. I often think that is one of the most important senses that a person needs to develop. Frank had managed to develop this one early on in life.

Chuck Grennell January 19, 2012

Leave a comment »

We need your help


Our list of those that have worked on the Oak Grove Hotshot crew is far from complete. Below are names, and in some cases, not complete names of fellow crew members we need contact information for. Please take a minute and look at the list and see if you have any information that will help us find these folks. We want to find them and alert them to the reunion on May 23, 2012.

Paul Hogan,
Ron Harper, Keith Humphry,
Victor Ortega, Howard Clearman,
Richard Gettmen, Steve Hassel,
Doug Petrie,
Art Brunston,
Jim Geer, Steve Pock,
Rusty Ramsey,
Jim Comer, Gene Kaldhusdal,
Frank Helper,
Joe Perez, John Alexander,
Larry Humphrey,
Leo Edmo, Roger Richcreek,
Robert Switzer, Otto Heisis,
Dennis Begay, Earl (Skip) Pike,

Bill Padinick, Phil Main,
Mike Czamecki, Ed Smith,
Jack Horton, Norm White,
Tommy Brumfield, Tom Deal,
John Stutler,
Bruce Stevenson, Kee Tsosie,
Bob Powers, Dana Crapa,
Dick Cramer, Tom Holden,
Dave Ohlson, Dave Busch,
Richard Reardon, Don Bingham,
Robert Murphy, Chris Paulson,
Don Fritchman, Pat Burgess,
Pat Felde, Rex Johnson,
Donald Glauthier,
Doug Disckson, Vincent Antone,
Allan Fowler, Sam Bennet,
Michael Yow, John Lavato,
Byron Crocker, Calvin Tane,
Ed Hook Tom Zwoa,
Johnny Lewis, Pete Roble,
Bob McDonald,
Brett Higbee,
Oscar Martinez, Randy Sewalson (sp),
Bob Slate, Charles T. Smith,
Pete Miller,
Carl Lannon, Bill Cummings,
Roy Hendria, Jerry Harris,
Lewis Blades, Daryll Norwalk,
Ron Hammond, Ken Vistad,
Mike Gross, Art Romero,
Jim Funk, Paul Hope,
Phil Perkins, Paul Johnson,
Dick Gitman, Danny Bangs,
John Bowman, Tom Dell,
Begay, Chris Hazen,
Lorni Hazen, Phil Seeley,
Dennis Mitchell, Brian Warner,
Mike Pepkey, Shawn Walls,
Mark Closet, Mike Terry,
(?) Shuman, (?) York,
B. Barnard, (?) Robinson,
(?) Alvarez, M. Smith,
W. Poepke, (?) Compos,
Ken Tolen, (?) Ridgeway,
(?) Shoop, (?) Johnson,
K. Burnes, J. O’Malley,
W. Berringer, Frank Hacker,
(?) Evans, Clifford Penny,
Richard Boatwright, Albert “Bobby” Harris,
Denny Ales,
Howard (The Old Man) Drake,
Ken McCool, “Speedy” Gozales,
Robert E.Begay, Frank Halper,
Don Benda,

Comments (8) »


The Oak Grove facility was started as a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp, Company 903, Forest Number-133, May 16th., 1933. The land belonged to the city of Pasadena and the Forest Service, Angeles National Forest, entered into a long-term lease agreement with the city for $1, to be extend for 99 years.

Originally, the CCC camp buildings were all constructed of wood. The buildings were used as an office, barracks, and for storage space.

With the deactivation of the CCC and the camps in 1942, the Forest Service no longer had a large, organized, firefighting workforce. The location was transitioned into the Arroyo Seco Ranger District headquarters and fire station. For many years, the facilities were tents that supplied the barracks, and mess hall.

At some point between the years 1950 and 1954, the Forest Service secured seven small military surplus, four person-sleeping quarters. These units were made of plywood, painted military green, and were used for some or all of the crewmembers. These types of structures were often called “flappers” due to a hinged plywood window cover that would “flap” with the wind.

In 1958, there were only four of the seven structures left, and were then being used for storage. The last four military surplus structures were removed sometime around 1960.

The first Hotshot crew on the Angeles National Forest was the Oak Grove Hotshot crew, approve in 1950. Eddie Lundgren, then on the Cleveland N.F., was selected for the position of the first Hotshot Superintendent. In 1950, one of the old wooden CCC barracks was partitioned off and converted into a one bedroom, one bath, residence for Eddie and his wife to live in.

In 1953, the construction of permanent facilities was started. These buildings were made using concrete block instead of plywood and canvas. Nappy Martin, Field Engineer in charge, was using force account personnel for the construction of the buildings. However, sometime during that summer, the local masonry labor union found out that the Forest Service was constructing their own buildings and made a complaint about the Forest Service using force account labor. The union was successful in getting the Forest Service to stop the force account work.

Shortly afterword, construction of the new facilities was resumed with the union workers. Union labor completed construction of the three barracks buildings. All of the structures were constructed using cinder block.

Foundation construction

In 1957, the Superintendents house was constructed, there were no additional buildings built during the remaining life of the station. However, there were three trailer sites constructed for Forest Service personnel to rent and live on. Fire crew supervisors used most of these sites.

Following the devastating flood of 1934, the Los Angeles River Flood Prevention Act of 1936 was enacted by the U.S. Congress to build flood control channels and structures throughout the Los Angeles basin and along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains within the L.A. River watershed of the Angeles National Forest. Then again in 1938, one of the worst floods in the history of L.A. County, killing 85 people and creating millions of dollars of damage, the funding was increased and expanded for decades to come. Hence, the creation of certain Forest Service fire suppression crews to protect this valuable watershed in about 1948.

In the early years, two of the Angeles National Forest Hotshot crews were funded using Los Angeles River watershed funds. These crews were Oak Grove and Chilao Hotshots. Los Angeles River watershed funding for the Forest Service Hotshot crews, was to help reduce the size of wildfires, control these fires quickly, and reduce burned watershed acreage. Los Angeles County wanted to reduce the amount of damage during the winter months. The control of wildfires quickly, would also reduce the funding needed for the repair caused by large wildfires. During the mid 70’s, flood control funding for the Hotshot crews stopped, putting additional pressure on the regional fire budget. In the years the Los Angeles River Flood Prevention Act funded the fire crews, the allocation of funds was approximately $1,300,000 each year, for a number of years, and helped construct needed facilities.

1950-1952 Eddie Lundgren

Ed Smith
Uyless Worlington
Charles T. Smith
Bob Barker
Ray Guardado Sr.

1953-1956 Harold (Tex) Strange

Jack Tice
Jack Horton
Norm White
Tommy Brumfield
Tom Deal – pusher
John Stutler – pusher
Jack Lane – pusher

1957 Dave Westfall

Norm White

1958-1960 Kenneth R. David

Norm White
Chuck Woods
George Hershberger
Bob Switzer

1961-1962 Tom Ralls

Larry Boggs
Reid Marks
Bruce Hamp

1963-1964 George Pond

Reid Marks
John Bowser
Bruce Stevenson

1965-1967 Marty Barrows

Bill Hall
Don Lopez
Jim Reveley

1967-1971 Larry Boggs

Larry Lang Asst. Supertindent
Don Lopez
Bill Hall
Henry Martinez
Jim Frakes
Kee Tsosie
Wayne Crowder (detail)

1971 Aug. to Oct. Mal Ellsion

Chet Cash
Skip Pike

1972-1973 Chet Cash

Skip Pike
Bob Powers
Mike Paul
Todd Heckert
Duane Casitada

1974-1978 Steve Arney

Ron Shurney
Louie Mora
Todd Heckert
Bob Serrato – pusher
Mark Sayles – pusher

Brush hook Bullets…

Eddie Lundgren
Eddie came to the Angeles N.F. from the Cleveland N.F. in 1950. Later in 1953, Eddie returned to the Cleveland N.F. to be a tanker foreman (engine captain), however, the Cleveland needed a Superintendent for the Cleveland Hotshots, so Eddie Lundgren was the Cleveland Hotshot Superintendent for two years.

In 1957, Eddie returned to the Angels N.F., Arroyo Seco Ranger District as District FCA (District FMO).

Harold (Tex) Strange

As told by Troy Kurth… Tex replaced Ned Taylor as the District FCA in about July 1958. I know he was Superintendent of the Oak Grove Hotshots for several years. He told me “the crew stayed the same age and he got a year older every year”. I think he got off the crew after 40 years old because he had a heart scare. I know he married Virginia Strange, I do not know her last name. Virginia was the tanker Foreman at Newhall during WWII. Tex complained about going down to Newhall with his tanker crew to mow the lawn cause the Ranger said it was “hard work for the all girl crew” at Newhall, that’s where Tex met her. Tex was courting her while doing telephone repair work on the Arroyo Seco. RD. He would call her on the telephone line while she was at Newhall. She was the District clerk at Valyermo in 1958; she would go to fires on district with Tex. We would pull up with the tanker and Virginia would tell the Foreman where his assignment was.

I think Tex was Foreman or Patrolman at Red Box, maybe 1938. Tex told me about not having any money so he shot a deer and had it hanging in the basement of his house. For some reason some FS type needed to do work on the house and he had to talk him out of going in. I know Ned Taylor and Don Bedibach were CCC, and very close friends. I know who else came from CCC was Fred Tyler, who was also part of that group. Hugh Masterson was referred to as Baby Hughie, as he was part of the group too. Harry Grace was too. Harry was Tanker Foreman at Big Pines station some 30 years before me. He thought that was funny when I went on the Stanislaus where he was Forest Supervisor. The group made fun of Harry when Harry told them he was “going to go to school and come back as their boss and fire their ass”. He did come back as the Angeles Forest FMO, did not fire them, and saved them from being fired on many occasions!

Tex told me about being on the Fish Fork Fire with the crew and some of the crew members found some old miner graves, dug them up, and kept the skulls. Tex fired them when they got back at Oak Grove. Tex did not want ghouls on the crew. He also said that he would fire anybody who did not work good. When they got off the truck at Oak Grove, he would just say, “you’re fired”, gone.

First time I met Tex was at Tie Summit station. We were putting insulation in the ceiling and I was in the ceiling because George Pond said I was the only one that would fit. It was very hot and the crew was supposed to put the insulation through the crawl hole. There was a slack period, still very hot, I looked down through the hole, and this person was standing there looking at me. I told him to get off his dead ass and “get the blank blank insulation up here”. He did. Later on, I was his very good friend. He told me that after leaving Tie Summit, that day, he decided being FMO was not as important as he thought it was. He hired me from the Alaska Jumpers as Patrolman at Tie Summit, then promoted me to Tanker Foreman at Big Pines and then got me a job at the Arroyo Seco RD, with Jack Lane.

Tex was very proud of his driving record. We were working fires on the Valyermo RD, small lightning fires on the desert front, we would arrive and scratch line around them then on to the next, about a dozen or so. We were headed to Valyermo for fuel, and there was Tex driving the road so we dropped down to wave at him as we came around the corner about 20 to 30 feet off the deck we waved at him. Tex, looked up and saw us and drove off into the sage brush, and then he gave us hell for scaring him.

Tex, did like to drink as they all did. He would pick me up at Big Pines and we would go look at the “tractor lines etc., to do that winter/spring or some such” and visit all the old people in Big Rock Creek or Wrightwood, etc. About half way through the afternoon, I would just stay in the bed of the truck until the next stop. Don, Tex and I would have a little Beam at Valyermo in the winter after work and they would fight the old fires… great evenings.

The Fenner Canyon Guard School always ended with a larger training fire than planned. They would select one of the crews to attack the fire and it would escape the hand crew and the fire would get bigger and then the tankers would move in and lay hose, and pick up the fire. The Bosses would say this is why “we need tankers and trained tanker crews”. Well, Tex decided it was probably his turn with Oak Grove. He did some special training with his crew before the fire school. So, the Bosses started the training fire, Tex and the crew was dispatched. Well, the crew jumped out of the trucks, lined up with heir hardhats and then the crew rushed in and swiped their hardhats full of water at the fire one behind the other. They knocked down the fire. Of course, the Bosses said that was wrong because the crew was now out of drinking water. Tex, said “not true”, Tex had doubled up on the canteens on the truck!

Tex, was a real gentleman. The best… I really liked the old guy.

Dave Westfall

In 1958, Dave was promoted on the Arroyo Seco R.D. to the east side ADFMO position. During the 1958 fire season, and while on an initial attack fire assignment on the Gun fire (started by tracer ammo.) Dave was severally burned while scouting the fire. Trying to escape the fire front, and lost in smoke, Dave fell over a rock, landing on his back, and broke his left foot at the ankle joint with only the tendon holding. Dave’s foot was saved, but the result was that the ankle had to be set in a fixed position.

Norm White, was one of the Oak Grove Foreman in 1956 to 1958, later taking the Santa Anita Fire Prevention position, and working for Dave Westfall. Norm White, was with Dave Westfall, when Dave broke his ankle, and was severally burned with 3rd. degree burns over most of his body. Eventually, Norm died of complications while in the hospital. Norm White, was married to Marilyn and at the time of the accident, she was pregnant with their first child.

Ken David

In 1946, Ken worked on the Plumas NF, as a crew supervisor for an inmate crew. He married his wife Annette in 1947 in Utah.

During 1957, Ken was the horse patrol FPT on the Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF, until 1958, when he became the Oak Grove Hotshot Superintendent. Ken transferred to the Long Barn RD, Stanislaus NF, as the District FMO during 1961 to 1965.

In 1966 to 1969, Ken worked at the Job Corp. Center, in Fenner Canyon, Angeles NF, and from there he transferred to the Redding Air Center (1969-72) Shasta Trinity NF, as the Budget Finance Specialist.

In 1971 to 19??, Ken became the Employee Development Specialist on the San Bernardino NF and finished his career on that forest.

Tom Ralls

Tom started his career in 1954, as a TTO on the San Bernardino N.F., then in 1955, he was picked up as PFT as a TTO at the Arcadia station on the Angeles N.F. and then Foreman. In 1956 he was drafted in the U.S. Army

Returning from the U.S. Army in 1958, Tom accepted the Arroyo Seco Canyon Fire Prevention position. From the position as FPT, he became an Oak Grove Hotshot Foreman during the 1959/60 season. Then in 1961 be became the Oak Grove Superintendent. In 1963, he was promoted to the high country Asst. District Fire Management Officer position at the Clear Creek station.

In 1964, Tom, took a detail to the Stanislaus N.F. on the Twain Harte R.D., to establish the first Stanislaus Hotshot crew there. Tom had to plan, supervise, and build a temporary tent camp for the Hotshot crew.

1965 Tom transferred to the Groveland RD, of the Stanislaus N.F. as DFMO.

In 1974, he transferred to the Palomar R.D., Cleveland N.F. as ADFMO and then in 1981 became the DFMO on the Palomar R.D., Cleveland N.F.. In 1985, Tom became the Asst. Forest Fire Management Officer on the Cleveland N.F. until retirement.

George Pond

In September 1954, George started as a crewman at Tie Summit (Mill Creek) station, working for Ralph Johnson. Between 1955-57 George became a TTO (tank truck operator) and then Foreman. He then moved to the Buckhorn station as patrolman and snow-ranger in 1957-59. He then spent two years in the Army and teh returned to the Buckhorn station. In 1961 he moved to Big Pines as AFMO for Tex Strange. In mid 1963, George moved to Oak Grove as Hotshot Superintendent. In 1965 he moved to the Shasta Trinity NF as DFMO and then later in late 1969, he left the Forest Service, and went to work for the California Department of Forestry (CDF), retiring from CDF in 2003.

Larry Boggs

Oak Grove Hotshot crewman Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
Tanker Foreman Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
Oak Grove Hotshot Foreman Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
Smokejumper (detail) Redding, CA
Fire Prevention Technician Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
Chilao HS, Asst. Superintendent Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
Oak Grove Superintendent Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
DFMO Coffee Creek RD, Shasta-T NF
DFMO Greenville RD, Plumas NF

Woody Wood Pecker Logo

The crew logo, at the time, was the Forest Service badge, routed in redwood and no one on the crew like it.

Several of the other Hotshot crews had their own crew logo that was identifiable with their crew.

Larry’s opinion was that the crew should have a logo that would identify the Oak Grove Hotshots and a logo the crew would like. Larry believed the crew logo should be fun and from an organizational stand point, not-controversial.

Below is the 1955 crew truck and crew truck sign. The truck sign was the same logo but was a little larger, and painted on Masonite, colorful but not a logo to be identified with a Hotshot crew.

In June 1967, the crew was working at the Arcadia Fire Warehouse for several weeks performing heavy building maintenance work. Ruth Coe, was the fire warehouse clerk there and Larry discovered that her husband Al Coe, was a cartoonist. Larry asked Ruth if she would ask her husband if he would be willing to draw a logo or mascot for the Oak Grove Hotshot crew.

Al Coe was an artist for the Walter Lantz Production Studio, in Burbank California. Al’s specialty was drawing the cartoon caricature Woody Woodpecker. A few days after asking Ruth Coe about her husband drawing a crew logo, Ruth informed Larry that Al had spoken with Walter Lantz and Mr. Lantz had given Al approval to develop a logo for the Oak Grove Hotshot crew.

Along with the approval to use the Woody Woodpecker caricature, was a letter from Walter Lantz, giving the crew permission to use Woody Woodpecker for anything associated with or for the crew identification. However, Woody Woodpecker was “copyrighted” and only the Oak Grove Hotshot crew was authorized to use the caricature. Any other use other than for the Oak Grove Hotshot crew was prohibited.

In about three weeks, Ruth Coe, brought three proofs of Al’s ideas for the new crew logo. All three proofs were similar but the crew picked the caricature with Woody Woodpecker chasing a fire flame with a shovel out stretched over his head, ready to swat the flame like a fly.

Woody Woodpecker proof

Original Woody Woodpecker proof

The rest is history. A local artist in Pasadena, California, first painted the Woody Woodpecker logo. The logo was round about 30 inches in diameter and installed on the crew truck.

Below is the first Woody Woodpecker truck logo mounted on an Oak Grove Hotshot crew truck. If you look at the bottom of the logo, you can read the “Copyright W.L.P.” required by the Walter Lance Production Studio.

Crew Truck Logo Sign

After the Woody Woodpecker crew truck logo was completed, Larry had patches made for crew vests, shirts, and baseball hats. Larry also had decals made for the crew hard hats.

Woody Patch

After completing the Woody Woodpecker patches and decals, Larry had each logo type with a picture of the crew truck, matted and framed for both Al Coe and Walter Lantz. Ruth was asked if she would have her husband Al, deliver the framed items to Walter Lantz. About a week later, Ruth informed Larry that her husband Al had delivered the framed Woody Woodpecker artwork to Walter Lantz and that Mr. Lantz was so happy with the gift that he placed it on his office wall next to all of the studios awards and commendations. So, one could assume that the Oak Grove Hotshots logo was hung next to a picture of “THE” Woody Woodpecker.

Chet Cash

Tanker Foreman Mt. Baldy RD, Angeles NF
Oak Grove HS Superintendent Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
ADFMO Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
DFMO Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
DFMO Santa Maria RD, Los Padres NF
DFMO Santa Lucia RD, Los Padres NF

Steve Arney

Dalton HS crew member Mt. Baldy RD, Angeles NF
Fire Prevention Mt. Baldy RD, Angeles NF
Tanker Foreman Mt. Baldy RD, Angeles NF
Oak Grove HS Superintendent Arroyo Seco RD, Angeles NF
DFMO Truckee RD, Tahoe NF
Fuels Officer Foresthill RD, Tahoe NF

In 1979, the crew was not funded and was disbanded, making Steve the last Oak Grove Hotshot Superintendent.

Steve accepted a position as a D.F.M.O. on the Truckee Ranger District, Tahoe National Forest.


All new JF’s (junior Foresters) as they were referred to, were hired right out of college. JF’s on the Arroyo Seco R.D. were assigned on the Oak Grove Hotshots and tanker (engine) crew at Oak Grove.

In the early years, everyone hired by the Forest Service, was expected to support fire suppression in some capacity. New hires were given the basic fire training by the Hotshot and tanker crew Foreman (Captain). The new foresters were required to participate in all fire training and crew project work. The new JF’s were required to work on fire crews for two years, and at the end of their two years, they were then assigned forester work.

There were two reasons for assigning new foresters to fire crews. First, there was the requirement that everyone support fire suppression. Secondly, the new hires experienced working with crews, supervision, and other duties as assigned.

The assignment caused great anxiety and frustration for some of the newly graduated foresters. The young JF’s felt they had spent 4-5 years in college and fully expected to be assigned a position in forestry and given an office. Because some of the new JF’s were not given forester positions when first hired, some of the new hires quit.

The following was the reply to an email I sent to Mike Rogers, who at the time was the Angeles Fire Staff (FFMO/Chief).

We were recently asked how the decommissioning of the Oak Grove Hotshots came about as it is not part of the history we have in our blog. As I recall, you were the fire staff during that period of time. Is it possible that you could supply us with that part of the history of the crew, so we could include it on our site?
Thanks so much.
Steve Arney

With only minor editing, the following is Mike’s reply.

Hi Steve,

I was the Fire Staff Officer (Chief) on the Angeles from 1977-1981. We had six Hot Shot Crews on the Angeles in 1977. Dalton, Oak Grove, Chilao, Little T, Bear Divide and Texas Canyon. There were a combination of things that happened. First, Dick Millar retired as Regional Deputy Regional Forester for Fire. He was replaced by Lynn Biddison from R-3. Bob Solari was on the RO Fire Staff at the time in charge of Planning. When the budgets came out at the RO they were printed on computer sheets that folded accordion style with tear off strips along each side with holes which lined up with the printer sprolls. When the Angeles Budget printed out three crews showed up on the front sheet and three were directly down from the first three but on the sheet that folded under. Chief Biddison did not realize this. I got a call from Lynn notifying me that the national fire budget funded only three of our Hot Shot Crews when in reality that was not the case. My DFFMO, Jim Stumpf and I dutifully made plans to fit within what we were told was the budget. When we eventually received the print outs for the Angeles we realized that in reality all of our six crews were funded, however, we were told to drop Oak Grove, Little T and Chilao. Also at this time the Oak Grove and Chilao crews had been partially funded out of the Los Angeles River Flood Prevention Act, a specific Congressional Act that was written in the years following the 1938 floods that wiped out all of the foothill communities, plus Pasadena, Glendale and Los Angeles. This had been the case following the passage of the Act in 1950. In the 1970’s the U S Soil Conservation Service, they held the budget these dollars came from, begin a series of reviews as they seriously questioned the continuation of this program (which incidentally continued at a reduced level of funding until President Bill Clinton wiped out five long standing national flood prevention programs in the 1990’s with the stroke of a pen his first year in office). As fate would have it, the reduction in the Los Angeles River Flood Prevention Act coincided with the error made by R-5 A&FM Director Biddison. When the error was pointed out we were told that the Angeles had six Hot Shot Crews while most Forests had one or none. So in the fog of the error the Lassen got a crew, the Sierra got a crew and possibly the Eldorado got a crew. We made the case that the crews were based in southern California because that is where the greatest values at risk were and fire histories on the four southern National Forests justified this positioning. We also pointed out that the Angeles and the other southern California National Forests always readily shipped these crews north when there was a need with no questions asked and they were available on the southern California National Forests in the peak September, October, November Fire Season. Our rationale was ignored. As it has turned out since this decision was made, when southern California is experiencing major wildfires in the fall of the year and desperately needs experienced Hot Shot Crews the central and northern forests have laid off all of their Hot Shot Crews because their fire seasons have ended. We were told when this shift of crews stationed in southern California was made that the northern crews would always be made available whenever southern California needed them, but this has never been the case. The Little T Crew was eventually resurrected in 2001.

When I first went to work on the Angeles in 1957 as a firefighter at Chilao on Crew 1-5-1 there were four Hot Shot Crews on the Forest; Chilao, Dalton, Oak Grove and Texas Canyon. The Cleveland NF had one crew, the El Cariso Hot Shots, The Los Padres NF had one crew, the Los Prietos Hot Shots, and The San Bernardino NF had one crew, the Del Rosa Hot Shots.

The 1970 R-5 Fire Planning effort resulted in additional engines and Hot Shot Crews being located in southern California with the Angeles ending up with six Hot Shot Crews and each of the other three southern California National Forests ending up with three each for a total of 15 Hot Shot Crews stationed in southern California.

In all reality, we (Jim Stump, Bill Dresser, Art Carroll and I) did not want to let any of the crews go. We had the work load and we were geographically situated to send crews off where ever they were needed (Burbank, LAX, Ontario). Our original 4 crews were more than justified in the 1970 Fire Planning Analysis requested of all forests by the Regional Office, plus justified the addition of two more crews, Little T and Bear Divide. About this same time the LA River Flood Prevention Program financing began to collapse. That was the core funding for Oak Grove and Chilao. When our position of keeping all 6 crews would not prevail, Jim Stumpf and I made the painful decision that we would eliminate 1 of the six and see what happened next. Oak Grove was the most vulnerable, as we did not have the LA River budget and it was back to back with Los Angeles County’s Camp 2, which responded to all of our wildland wildfires along the Angeles front if they were in camp. The Chilao Crew location was very strategic in that Chilao’s response was all downhill, with the exception of going north on the Angeles Crest Hwy and they could go all directions from Chilao, plus there was a heliport at Chilao for fast attack. Bear Divide had a similar advantage. As you know the funding for Chilao was cobbled together through 1983 thanks to the efforts of Jim Stumpf, Mike Edrington and District Ranger Terry Ellis. They kept the crew going as long as they could. In the interim Little T was also eliminated because of Fire Funding budget cuts (actually the funds were taken from the two dropped crews on the Angeles and sent to the Lassen and Sierra NF for newly established Hot Shot Crews in the late 70’s). Suddenly the Angeles went from 6 Hot Shot Crews to 4 (down to 3 in 1983 when Chilao could no longer be funded) and stayed that way until the resurrection of the Little T Hot Shot Crew in 2001.

Mike Rogers

Comments (11) »

Bob Hewitt 1976

Leave a comment »


On November 1, 1966, in a canyon near the boundary of the Angeles National Forest, California, a flare-up on the Loop Fire overran the Forest Service’s El Cariso Interregional Fire Crew, burned to death 10 firefighters and inflicted critical to minor injuries on 12 others.
The helmet in the photo was found over 30 years after the fire by a L.A. County fire crew working in the area.
While the Oak Grove Hotshots were on the Loop Fire, the helmet in the photo is not a helmet warn by any Oak Grove fire crew. It is believed that the helmet was probably warn by a member of the Oak Grove work center engineering crew working on the soil stabilization, after the fire. Why it was burned or the history of the helmet may never be known.

About 1968, standing in front of the crew truck, but who is he? Help us out.

1968 Project work.

1968 Mess hall Cook Virgil Arrant and the bull cook name unknown.

Some photos of the 1968 crew having a going away party for Bob Conklin, submitted by Steve Wark. If you recognize anyone let us know.

1967 Entrance sign
Left to right
Larry Lange Don Lopez Larry Boggs

1960 Crew Mostly Native Americans Superintendent Tom Ralls, Assistant Superintendent Reid Marks and Foreman Larry Boggs. Photo also includes Oak Grove tanker crew.


News Release from
The Cuzynski Family

On Friday, October 28, 2016, retired San Gabriel Fire Department Captain Chris Cuzynski, was traveling to Reno for a retired Police Officer’s funeral. In his travels north along Hwy 395, before the City of Lone Pine, Chris appeared to have a cardiac related issue which caused his passing. This resulted in a solo vehicle accident.
Captain Chris Cuzynski served 38 years with the San Gabriel Fire Department. He also served 2 years as a Federal Fireman assigned to El Toro Marine base and 2 years in the U. S. Forest Service as an Oak Grove Hotshot, for a total of 42 years of service.
Chris is survived by:
Mother —- Betty Linker
Wife —- Susie Cuzynski
Son —- Joe Cuzynski – Los Angeles County Fireman
Daughter —- Carolynn “Cookie” Cuzynski — Orange County Deputy Sheriff


Crew of 1976 Standing left to right… Bob Hewitt… Mike Rohde… Mike Dunn…Gary Kruth… Unknown… Bob Serrato w. beard… Mark Sayles… John Hundson… ??? Ramsey… Bent over Steve Pock… Ron Shurney… Bottom row Steve Arney… Larry Rodriguez… Dennis Mitchell… John Wambaugh… Paul Hogan… Larry ‘nasty” Thomas… John Schmechel… Louie Mora
Help us with the names by contacting us using the post feature.

Crew members identified in the 1968 PACE Magazine.
Pace Mag 002

Starting on the far left, in the background is Chuck Grennell, standing next to Chuck is Steve McDougal, the next one (sitting on a rock with his head on his arm) is Cliff Penny, the next one, without the hard hat is Richard Boatwright, behind Boatwright (facing the opposite direction) is Raymond Leo Coker (we think), standing next to Coker is Don Allison, to the right of Allison (cut-off at the stomach) is Bob Conklin and lastly is Douglas Beck. They guy in the foreground, who is to the left of Beck, in this picture, (with his back turned to the camera) is Joe Gutierez. The guy behind Beck’s hardhat could be Bobby Harris.

Take a look at this video from the Rachel Maddow show. It has Oak Grove Hotshots in it.

Rod Duff, a member of the 1952 Oak Grove Hotshots, passed away on March 30 after a short illness. Rod lived a full life that included wildland firefighting for the USFS and CDF, working as a Disney Imagineer, owning an animation company, and serving as an interpretive ranger at Bodie State Park in retirement. He was an 19th century mining and railroading expert, a lifetime Land Rover enthusiast, a model railroader and a member of the Bodie Chapter of E Clampus Vitas. Rod considered his time as a hotshot one of the highlights of his life, and thoroughly enjoyed himself at the Oak Grove Hotshot reunion in 2012.

Services will be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, April 6, at Joshua Memorial Park, 808 East Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster, CA.

Condolences can be sent to Rod’s wife Cindy Kline at 7229 West Columbia Way, Quartz Hill, CA 93536.

Best thoughts and prayers for family and friends.

Highly recommend you all read this book.

Highly recommend you all read this book.

We are saddened to say that Bob Taber, a member of the 1960 crew has passed away. All crew members express our condolences to his wife Sue and his family.



1968 crew members L to R Steve Wark, Chuck Grennell and Ken McCool. Photo taken Dec. 2012.

'68 oak grove hotshots 136Submitted from Jim Reveley’s collection.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots from left: Gary? Greg ? and Mike Fisher.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots from left standing: Foreman Jim Reveley, ??? fifth from left Gary Reynolds, ?, Greg, Jim ? ?, Sam Tsosie, Foreman Bill Hall, ? , Mike Fisher, ?, Terry Hines, ? ?

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots Jim Reveley, left (with back turned)

Bruce Hamp, Chilao 1961 ?

Party time at Monte Cristo: Gary Reynolds on floor, Terry Hines girlfriend Maria, John Finnerty with pillow.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots L to R Terry Hines, unknown, Gary Reynolds.

1965 Oak Grove Hotshots: L to R Foreman Jim Reveley, Superintendent Marty Barrows, Foreman Bill Hall.

Foreman Jim Reveley planting trees at Monte Cristo.

Montey Cristo dedication 1967 ?

TTO Todd Heckert at Monte Cristo 1967

1975 Oak Grove Hotshots

1976 Oak Grove Hotshots

Marble-Cone fire 1977

1967 Project work falling tree

L to R Pat Felde, Larry Boggs, Tom Holden, John Alexander, Roger Gamst, unknown

Crew on a fire on the Tahoe NF, 1967

1964 crew responding to a fire

Tanker bay behind Ranger Station 50’s

Crew truck 1964

Paul Hope and behind him is John Lovato

Summer of 1964, in Santa Anita Canyon, doing project work

L to R Byron Crocker, Allan Fowler, Cirillio (first name), Donald Glauthier (on shoulders) Doug Dickson and Jim Linfoot.

Doug graduated from Humboldt State in Forest Management in 1965 and was a Lt. in the infantry in Nam, and was killed in a fire fight in 1967. He was a good friend.

Larry Boggs

New-bees with Boggs

Helicopter Training

1955 Constructing a “Flapper” building

Concrete logo now at the Angeles Crest Station

Oct. 1967

L to R Roger Gamst, John Alexander and Don Lopez off loading from DC-3

1967 crew members

L to R Roger Gamst, Don Allison, Dave Bohning, Larry Boggs and Don Lopez

Oct. 1967 Tahoe fire

L to R Roger Gamst, Dave Bohning and Tony Morton

1966 crew on the Mendocino NF, Round Fire

Tom Holden, Calvin Tane, Ed Hook, Tom Zwoa, Johnny Lewis, Pete Roble, Bill Cummings, Brim, Roy Nendria, Jerry Harris, Roger Gamst, Lewis Blades, Daryll Normark, Ron Hammond, Ken Vistad, Sam Bennett, Mike Gross, Art Romero and Jim Funk

Foreman Ron Shurney and crew


L to R Standing, Asst. Foreman Bruce Stevenson; Rex Johnson: Jim Linfoot; Jerry Rice: Donald Glauthier: Doug Dickson; Vincent Antone; Alan Fowler; …? Front row: Sam Bennet; Michael Yow; John Lavato and Byron Crocker


Back row from left
Tony Morton, Don Allison, Tom Holden, Dave Ohlson, Larry Humphrey, Dave Bohning, Mike Busch, Richard Reardon, Steve Wark, Wayne Crowder Front row kneeling: Don Bingham, Asst. Superintendent Larry Lang, Robert Murphy, Roger Gamst, Chris Paulson, Don Fritchman, Pat Burgess, Pat Felde, John Alexander, Foreman Donald Lopez and Superintendent Larry Boggs

Bob Hewitt 1976

Burning Brush 1976

Ron Shurney showing how it is done 1976

End of season pile burning 1976

Louie Mora and Bob Serrato after water fight 1976

Mike Rohde with his Super Pulaski 1976

One of two new crew trucks 1976

Ord Fire Tonto NF R-3 1976

Old Crew truck 1976

Steve Arney and Mark Sayles Piute Mtn. SQF lightning 1976

Entrance walk to District Office during Santa Ana winds

Grab ass in the barracks 1976

Tex Strange and Nancy Ambler. Jack Tice, married Nancy while he was foreman working for Tex. Nancy was a payroll clerk in the OG office (1954).

Crew of 1957 Front row left to right #3 Harry Antonine #4 Dave Westfall #6 Jack Lane #8 Danny Bangs Second row left to right #2 Otto Hiesig (at time of picture, yard maintenance) #7 Dave Lake (mother tanker driver) #11 Kenneth Ray David Back row left to right #3 John Bowman

Highly recommend this book of early Forest Service history and wildland firefighting

Foreman Jack Tice 1955 made the signs for the new Hotshot trucks

Girl Scouts, Smokey L.A. City Fire Chief and Jack Tice, in front of of the LA City Hall 1957

1975 Fire in the Kern River Wilderness

Dave Maxell Kern River 1975 Hot Shovel

Kern River 1975 Glenn Howard Mr. Sunshine

Oak Grove Hotshot project wall

Thanks to Bob Hewitt for recovering this plaque from the “Project Wall”. Just some of the names of crew members who worked on the rock wall all those years were: Larry Rodriguez, Bob Serrato, John Wambaugh, Steve Pock, Dave Maxell, Gary Kruth and Mike Gutierrez.

During the 1959 Gun fire, Dave Westfall, was severally burned while scouting the fire. Trying to escape the fire front, Dave fell over a rock, landing on his back, and broke his left foot at the ankle joint with only the tendon holding. Norm White, was with Dave Westfall, when Dave broke his ankle, and was severally burned with 3rd. degree burns over most of his body. Eventually, Norm died of complications while in the hospital. This picture was taken at the end of the season party in which the Angeles NF, Forest Supervisor, Richard Droege, is presenting Chuck Woods (Oak Grove Foreman) and Jack Tice with a letter of commendation from Regional Forester Charles Connaughton, and a cash award for the part they played in the rescue of Westfall and White. Oak Grove Hotshot, Dick Williamson, and others were also instrumental in the rescue.

Some members of the 1950 crew included Ray Guardado Sr., pictured below the crew sign with dark glasses. The truck was one two or more that carried the crew.

1959 Barracks #3 (Foreman Barracks) Left: Dick Skelton Right: Tom Ralls

Fire School Fenner Canyon 1956 click to open PDF

1950 Newspaper article

Fire above Altadena

Joe Gutierez

Larry Lang

Lightning Fire

Crew hamming it up

Don Lopez

Crew infront of garage

Two man saw training

Getting ready to cut line

Dinner in the messhall

Cutting fire line

Pictures submitted by Joe Gutierez


<img src=”

Tanker 1-4 1970 crew Back Row LR Wayne Crowder (TTO), Don Allison, and Forman Jerry O’Dell. Front row LR Frank Helper and Joe Perez

Oak Grove Trail Crew 1968/69 L to R Ukn, Skip Pike, Mike Paul (Doughrty), Roger Gamst, Don Gilliland, Wayne Crowder, Jim Linfoot, Wolfgang Tamm, and Buster Klien

The following 19 photos are from a 1968 PACE Magazine.

Disk Williamson took this picture in 1959, of George Hershberger at Switzer’s Campground.

Dillion Divide Fuelbreak 1960-68 L- R Bob Switzer, Ken David and Bob Hensley.

The following photo’s are submitted from Dick Willamson.
This is in 1959 on the Wiley Fire on Ontario Peak on the Mt. Baldy District. Our crew hiked in the night before and got to the fire about daybreak. It was a lightning strike, not much of a fire but got a lot of attention. They were looking for alternatives to Borate at the time and were experimenting with Bentonite and cargo drops from the Sikorsky S-55. The two guys in ball caps were researchers, probably from the Fire Lab. They had to hike out with us as the marine layer moved up that afternoon, preventing the helicopter from flying anymore. All the pictures are of the same fire that we, Oak Grove Hotshots, responded to the night before. If I remember right it wasn’t a complete crew, only those who were in still in camp when we got the call. In the group shot on the far right is Bob Ensminger, ADR on the Mt. Baldy District. Next to him is Palonio Romero, Helitack. All the rest are Oak Grove Hotshots.

Wiley Fire hike out.

Wiley Fire 1959 cargo drop

Wiley Fire 1959 S-55 cargo drop

Wiley Fire Bentonite Drop

Wiley Fire

Wiley Fire hiking out.

Wiley Fire Dick Williamson

Wiley Fire group shot

Wiley Fire long hike out.

Left – Ken McCool and Chuck Grennell

Louie Mora Hog Fire 1977

Ron Shurney Hog Fire 1977

Comments (41) »