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Incident Name:  Grangeville ID fires
Date:  8/13/05
Personnel: Roy "Ernie" Johnson
Age:  52
Position: on this incident Field Airspace Coordinator

Summary: On 8/13/05 Ernie was on assignment in Grangeville, ID as an Airspace Coordinator. After a day full of fire aviation coordination activites, Ernie retired to his quarters at a local motel and succumbed to what was believed to be a heart attack.

Ernie Johnson Ernie Johnson

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Idaho County Airport at Grangeville where he was working as the fires incident Field Airspace Coordinator

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Reports, Documentation, Lessons Learned

  • What can we say? We learned a lot from him!

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  • Julie's Tribute to Ernie Johnson 8/20/05
  • Memory Wall for Ernie
  • Theysaid: Announcement 8/16/05 (scroll up)
    Theysaid: Remembrances on the anniversary of his passing on every year since his death
  • IMWTK: Who invented the Helitorch?
    Theysaid 1/1/09: Ab, I read the note from Marty Alexander about the flying driptorch inventor. I believe Ernie Johnson, Shelton Ranger District, Olympic NF may have been one of the first in the USFS to use one of them. Back in the late 70's, the Shelton district burned alot of acres. I was with the Sanderson Field YACC near the ranger station and watched him hook up a flying driptorch to a car battery, mount the whole thing to a forklift, then lay a strip of flame across the parking lot behind the warehouse. Think it was 1978? I seem to remember he had an idea about lighting units with a laser and some sort of exploding devices. Some of the old timers from the Shelton district might be able to fill in the details much better than I. Firehorse

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Media Articles and Reports.

Forest Service Shield

News Release
Olympic National Forest
1835 Black Lake Blvd.
Olympia, WA 98512-5623
Public Affairs Office: (360) 956-xxxx


AUGUST 16, 2005

OLYMPIA, WA - Roy Ernie Johnson, a retired Forest Service employee and long-time resident of Shelton , Washington , is believed to have died of natural causes Saturday, August 13, 2005. A former employee of Olympic National Forest, Ernie was on a fire fighting assignment in Grangeville , Idaho where he was serving as the Airspace Coordinator for the Clearwater/Nez Perce National Forest. Ernie passed away while he was off-duty resting at a local motel. He had been on this fire assignment since August 11th.

Ernie worked for the Forest Service for 25 years. He was serving as the Hood Canal District Fire Management Officer on the Olympic National Forest when he retired in March of 1996. Throughout his Forest Service career, Ernie was a dedicated federal employee and fire fighter having a firm commitment for protecting life, property and resources. He was multi-talented and served in many different roles during wildland firefighting efforts including Type II Incident Commander and several overhead positions in Air Operations.

Ernie is survived by his wife, Teresa (married 33 years this week); and three children; Jennifer (30), Jessica (28), and Eric (22).

A memorial service will be Saturday, August 20, 1:00 PM at the Civic Center in Shelton. Cards and letters may be sent to McComb Funeral Home, P.O. Box 179 , Shelton , WA in care-of Teresa Johnson and family.
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Photos, Videos, & Tributes

Here is a re-write of the poem "brother when you weep for me" with a wildland twist for Ernie.

Brother when you weep for me
Remember it was meant to be
Remember I’ll be at your sleeve,
On every steep and shale covered hill
When your hiking continues only through will
When you feel that touch against your sleeve you will know
In draws hot with searing heat
On ridges where a spot you unexpectedly meet
By snags where the embers fly
You know that I’ll be at your side
The station from which I now respond
Is overstaffed with heroes gone
Those who went on one last roll
Who did a job and and gave their all
As firefighters we understand
That death’s a card dealt in our hand
A card we hope we’ll never play
But one we hold there anyway
That card is something we ignore
As we hike across the “classic” draw
For we know we’re the only chance
To stop the beast in its fury filled dance
So remember when you wipe your tears
The joy I knew through out the years
As I did a job I loved to do
I pray that thought will see you through

thanks, Risky
The poem that inspired this is "May They Not Be Forgotten" by James McNulty, FDNY (retired)


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Contributors to this article: Michael Mann, BB, Julie, Risky, Lance Honda, RC, Yoda, Mellie, Eric Johnson, Ken, Chogi, LPF, Ernie's friends and family on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington.

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