A fascinating mix of local legends who could be characterized as "the right people, in the right place, at the right time" arrived in Central Oregon during the past century and a half to make Bend the fascinating city it has become. Some of these people--explorer John Charles Fremont, publisher George Palmer Putnam, economist William A. Niskanen, and "World's Greatest Athlete" Ashton Eaton among them--gained national prominence and even global stature. Others were and are more ordinary people who have done and continue to do extraordinary things in an extraordinary place, a small but singular city of some 80,000 souls astride the Deschutes River at the eastern foot of the Cascade Range.
From the crest of the High Cascades eastward to the High Desert, the Deschutes National Forest is one of America's great national treasures. Timber, water, and forage were plentiful in Central Oregon and provided the building blocks for the region. Today, the national forest's scenery and year-round outdoor recreational resources play major roles in sustaining a vibrant and diverse modern economy and a unique way of life. Since 1905, these resources have been administered by the US Forest Service, fulfilling its mission to pursue "the greatest good of the greatest number in the long run," as decreed by forester Gifford Pinchot when he led the fledgling agency.
“The fact of being a citizen of the United States of America offers the opportunity—not the guarantee, but the opportunity—to live an extraordinary life,” Les Joslin writes in the introduction to Life & Duty, an autobiography in which he proves his thesis as the relives the first seventy years of his American adventure. He shares these years in twenty chapters that comprise this three-part volume. Part I covers his family heritage and early years from 1943 to 1967, Part II his U.S. Navy career from 1967 to 1988, and Part III his life in Oregon from 1988. From Part I, Chapter 5, Summer 1965 on the Toiyabe National Forest... That wasn’t the first time I’d dealt with an armed citizen, and it wouldn’t be the last. Some of the challenges of my fire prevention job had nothing to do with wildfire prevention but everything to do with the fact I was sometimes the only public servant around to handle a situation. It had to do with that sometimes gray area between official duty and moral obligation. The previous summer, on my way to Twin Lakes, I detoured to check the dump I’d burned a few days before. Suddenly, I heard shots, just as the Lone Ranger and Tonto did in the opening scene of almost every episode, and what I saw as I neared the dump scared me. A big, beefy, fortyish man standing next to a late-model Cadillac sedan was firing a high-powerd rifle.... He’d heard me coming, and turned as I stopped the patrol truck. He didn’t look particularly threatening. But there were serious unknowns. I didn’t know him. I didn’t know what he might shoot at. I didn’t know he wouldn’t shoot at me. From Part II, Chapter 10, November 1979 aboard USS Kitty Hawk... On November 28, I got up, showered and shaved, put on clean khakis as usual, and started toward the wardroom for breakfast. The usual scent of salt and jet fuel was in the air, and I had a lot on my mind. I descended two ladders to the hangar bay, only to be brought up short by bumping my head on a helicopter that wasn’t supposed to be there. A quick look around revealed seven more RH-53D Sea Stallion helicopters that their HM-16 markings told me belonged to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron Sixteen, not part of the ship’s air wing. So that’s why the swing south to Diego Garcia! They’d been flown there, probably in C-5As, and had flown aboard last night. Had I actually slept through flight quarters? I forgot about breakfast, climbed the ladders back to the 02 level, and knocked on the door of the flag N-2’s office. “This isn’t going to work,” I said as he opened the door. “We can’t fly those helicopters into a city of five million hostiles and rescue fifty hostages.” “They don’t want to hear that,” he replied, and closed the door. From Part III, Chapter 15, Summer 1992 on the Deschutes National Forest As I walked toward the fire, I began to think. Am I doing the right thing? After all, I’m just a contract wilderness information specialist, not part of the fire organization. I hadn’t been to the Deschutes National Forest’s fire school. I didn’t have fire clothing. I didn’t have a fire shelter. Except for a canteen, I didn’t have any water. And I’d turned in my last red card—the fire qualification card that rated me as a crew boss—in 1966 when I’d left the Toiyabe National Forest to go on active duty in the Navy. That was twenty-six years ago! Should I be doing this? Sure, I answered my own question. I’d started out in the “old Forest Service” where everybody did everything. I’d done this many times before, in the days before fire shirts and Nomex britches and fire shelters. I’d had five fire seasons on the Toiyabe, been on a couple big fires. ... I knew this business. I knew how to keep out of trouble. About the time I resolved that little issue, I was at the fire....