1 (edited by jerome.oneil 2008-04-24 07:32:23)

Topic: The Battle of Mann Gulch

In August of 1949, 15 Smokejumpers of the US Forrest Service dropped on a routine fire at Mann Gulch, north of Helena Montana.  Less than two hours later, 13 of them would be dead or mortally wounded.  Norman McClean committed this tragedy to memory in his book "Young Men and Fire."

This song was inspired by that book, as well as my father, who was both a native Montana boy, and a fire fighter as well.

The Battle of Mann Gulch Thirteen Stones

[Am]Lighting stikes on a Montana hill

[Em]The fire burns so bright

[Am]Missouri water flows down below

[Em]Smoke rising to fading daylight

Smoke [G]rising to fading [Am]daylight

[Am]Fifteen men circle low overhead

[Em]and step into skies unknown

[Am]With a faith as wide as a Montana sky

[Em]that by ten AM they'll be home

that by [G]ten AM they'll be [Am]home

[Am]The Earth will rage as [G]you've never seen

[F]Rivers flood and [Am] hurricanes scream

[G]But it's fire that burns it [Am]clean

[G]It's fire that burns it [Am]clean

[Am]Dodge collects his crew high on the plateu

[Em]far from the fire's roar

[Am]They'll move down the hill and attack from below

[Em]Just like a hundred times before

Just like a [G]hundred times [Am]before

[Am]But the fire crowned, and jumped the gulch

[Em]It was something they'd never seen

[Am]Dodge said "turn around boys, and head for high ground,

[Em]this fire is getting mean."

He said [G]"This fire is getting [Am]mean."

[Am]The grass is high and dry in the August sun

[Em]The fire has blown and it's gaining fast

[Am]Flames 100 feet high, they begin to run

[Em]But how long can they last?

[G]How long can they [Am]last?

[Am]Dodge kneels down with a flame in his hand

[Em]and starts a ring of fire on his own

[Am]He says "Huddle here boys, it's your only chance"

[Em]It's the last chance that they'll ever know

It's the [G]last chance that they'll ever [Am]know

[Am]Eyes red with smoke, wanting to scream

[Em]Voices fill with fear

[Am]They look at the blaze close on their heels

[Em]and say "Hell with that lets get out of here."

Hell with [G]that lets get out of [Am]here.

[Am]The Earth will rage as [G]you've never seen

[F]Rivers flood and [Am] hurricanes scream

[G]But it's fire that burns it [Am]clean

[G]It's fire that burns it [Am]clean

[C]Run for that [G]Montana sky

[C]The flames draw close

[G]Too tired to cry

[F]Do you see it now?[C]That beautiful sky?

[G]Watch as the fire burns it [C]clean.

[G]Watch as the fire burns it [C]clean.

[Am]Two get out over the top of the ridge

[Em]The fire passes Dodge unseen

[Am]But for 13 men there sit 13 stones

[Em]Where the fire burned it clean.

[G]Where the fire burned it [Am]clean.

[Am]For 13 men there sit [G]13 stones...

Someday we'll win this thing...


Re: The Battle of Mann Gulch

Hey Jerome - That is a well told story. I can't play it right now as I have to go to work but I read it through and I have to say that I am impressed.

J  E  T  S
...and yet a Washington Football Club fan ...long story...HTT...WFT

Re: The Battle of Mann Gulch

ho jerome its like watching one of those american films about fire fighters ,the commentry from the action and the anguish when things go wrong,brilliant...stay cool

love is life ,life is for love,keep a true heart and live life to the full....stay cool

Re: The Battle of Mann Gulch

Your song tells a story and has great flow. Well Done.


one caper after another

Re: The Battle of Mann Gulch

So Very well done Jerome,

I had never heard of Mann Gulch. I Googled it. I had a ariel view of the place. It looks such a pretty place,
I also learned that Rufus Robison, and Earl Cooley were the first 2 smoke jumpers. I then read your piece again.

I actually felt scared for them, maybe because i seen my own sister being burned in a fire many moons ago as kids.

She survived Thank God.     I have learned a lot from your piece. So thank you!

Your Dad  and all of those men would be so proud of your work here.

You did them proud.

Old Doll.

Why Blend in with the Crowd ? When you were made to stand out !

Re: The Battle of Mann Gulch

Hi Jerome,

A beautiful song and a fitting tribute to both your father and all the firefighters that have lost their lives making things safe for the rest of us.


"Do, or do not; there is no try"

Re: The Battle of Mann Gulch

WOW.......VERY GOOD...... Jerome. Its great to have some good tales in these song we do.Very Nice

I thought ; If I had one idea,
and took it from beginning to end.
I would try another.