Download Full Text (47 KB)


The long-time (47-62) McCall jumper and CIA employee was felled by a heart attack and died peacefully at his home in Weiser, ID on Oct. 19, 1999. Richard was born March 3, 1927, at Gannett, Idaho, the son of Martin and Madge Leazenby Peterson. He attended elementary school in Gannett and began high school at Hailey. He left during his senior year in 1945 to join the U.S. Army and trained as a paratrooper at Fort Benning, Ga., with the 82nd Airborne. He was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to graduate from Salmon High School in 1947. Paperlegs became a smokejumper with the U.S. Forest Service the summer of 1947. From then until 1954 he spent summers as a smokejumper and winters in mining. He went full-time with the Forest Service in 1955 and made over 200 parachute jumps throughout the western United States. He was a member of the National Smokejumper Association, and is fondly recalled as "Paperlegs." From 1962-1973 he worked as a parachute dispatch officer for Intermountain Aviation involved with special operations in Tibet, Laos, Vietnam, Cuba, India and Peru. He met and married Ridgely Chapline in 1964. The couple lived in Tucson, Ariz. They moved to Lander, Wyo., in 1973, where he worked as a miner. In 1982 they returned to Salmon and resided there until moving to Weiser in 1994. He is survived by his wife, Ridgely.



Publication Date

January 2002


Smokejumping; Smokejumpers -- United States; National Smokejumper Association; Wildfire fighters; Obituaries


Forest Management

Smokejumper Obituary: Peterson, Richard A. (McCall 1947)