A bit of Bill Gabbert history

We got a note yesterday from Marty Parish, who knew Bill Gabbert years ago. He was amazed to see names here from his IHC days; he said he met Bill when he was with the Laguna Hotshots in the early 1980s, when Bill was working in Prevention and lived at Camp Ole, near the Laguna IHC camp.

Marty sent us this photo that was sent to him by another firefighter. He does not know where or when it was taken.  But that’s for sure Bill Gabbert at far left. Who can identify more of the guys in this photo?

Radar Squadron on Mt. Laguna
Radar Squadron on Mt. Laguna

“At 17 I became a Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) member in late 1978,” wrote Marty. “We were based out of a work camp located off the same highway (Sunrise Hwy) about two miles north of Camp Ole (Al Bahr Shrine Camp, now gone after the 2013 Chariot Fire). We worked closely with the USFS as part of the program. I was hired in ’79 as an Engine Crewman (Corral Canyon) while working as a YACC with Mert Thomas in Recreation (Mert got me the job!) and I finished the second half of the season that year ending in early January of 1980. I returned in the spring to Camp Ole for my first Hotshot season.”

“I didn’t really know Bill well,” added Marty.  “We had lived for a short time in the same USFS realm on the Cleveland National Forest-Descanso District; he had left suppression before we met and was working in Prevention. He lived in one of the USFS employee residences at Camp Ole (on Mt. Laguna, San Diego County).”

“I was a Laguna Hotshot for three years, but not sure he was there all three years (we relocated for a year to Descanso, then returned to Camp Ole, only to relocate back to Descanso permanently after I left for FHS).”

Marty, who was also with the Flagstaff Hotshots 1983-1985, added this. “Not sure who is in this photo, but that’s definitely Bill on far left side. Again, my condolences for your loss. A couple of others from that era recently passed too, including my dear friend Brian Connelly from LHS and MCB/Camp Pendleton Fire. Let me know if you pick up other names of people in the pic.”

Hit us up if you recognize any of the other guys in this photo or can provide other details — just click “Leave a comment” under the headline above. THANKS!


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6 thoughts on “A bit of Bill Gabbert history”

  1. Jim Barr is second from left front row. He was my Engineer at Barona Station, Palomar District, Cleveland NF in 1982.

  2. Jack Reveal worked with me on the Fire Hazard Reduction and Open Space Management Task Force after the Kitchen Creek/Laguna Mountain Fire (about a decade after I left the Forest Service for the Air Force). I never met Bill, but “ships that pass in the night” and all that . . . I picked the brains of guys like Eamor Nord and Clive Countryman in the process. All great guys who put the work before the buck.

  3. As I recall Marty, I know at some point that our paths crossed, just not exactly sure when. I was on Laguna 85-86….Bill Molumby-Supt. This is when I first ran into Bill G. he was still at Ole. I recall when they decommissioned the base, we were given free rein to remove what we wanted, I recall that we removed all sorts of stuff to outfit our facility at Descanso. Jeff Robinson I remember as well, James Barr was my Driver at Barona and Rolf Larson the Forman, we were co-located w/ CDF or County Fire in the estates, it put us close to 4 corners. I believe I was there maybe 2 seasons, maybe 81-82, my memory is a little foggy…..I recall Rolf and James thinking I had no chance of making it as my attitude and mouth were going to be the end of me……Rolf was a huge influence on me, and we became friends along the way. I certainly have some very fond memories of my time on the CNF, I started out as a punk kid w/ a big mouth who did a lot of growing up w/ the help of those that were great examples……Thanks for the flash back. Hope you are all doing well in your advanced age…..lol……Peace……Jeff Koenig……

  4. Hey Jeff, we had a common friend or two. One was David Rosalee and the other was my ex-wife’s cousin; Doug. I believe you two worked on the Palomar District at the time. We 1st met at Doug’s brother’s Bachelor party in Escondido. I believe this was in ’86 (?). I believe you’d just went over to El Cariso.

    I didn’t know the Barona personnel, I left Laguna after the ’82 season for Flagstaff HS for next 3 fire seasons. I returned to Dripping Springs FS. Then promptly left for Camp Pendlton Fire.

    We all were raised by our brothers, and raised younger brothers, in the ol’ USFS.
    Take care out there.

  5. Thanks Martin, that was a big help, I was able to go back to the party and see your face….Yep Doug P……That was a party…..lol……Thanks……

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