1st doctor on scene at Mann Gulch dies

2010-06-26T23:00:00Z 1st doctor on scene at Mann Gulch diesGazette news services The Billings Gazette
June 26, 2010 11:00 pm  • 

HELENA — Dr. Amos R. Little II, of Helena, died Tuesday of natural causes. He was 93.

Little was an athlete, adventurer, patriot and physician. He was a pioneer, community volunteer, humanitarian, world traveler, family man and an internationally recognized official and advocate for the sport of alpine skiing.

In 1944, Little gained national recognition when a B-17 bomber crashed on Crown Peak in Colorado’s Roosevelt National Forest. Battling high winds and a dangerous landscape, he parachuted from 12,500 feet down to the 11,000-foot site of the crash, providing medical attention to four of the surviving crew members. Later, he switched from jumping onto mountains to climbing them, and in 1958 Little made the 24th documented ascent of Granite Peak.

A member of the U.S. Forest Service’s original Parachute School at Seeley Lake, Little made six more rescue jumps before his tour of duty expired in 1946. Three years later, he helped identify the bodies of the 11 smokejumpers who perished in the 1949 Mann Gulch Fire.

Little arrived in Helena in late 1946, where he practiced general medicine for the next 32 years. He then served as the director of medical affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield and was the Montana Medicare Part B medical director before retiring in 1994.

The Little family was one of the key components of the Belmont (now Great Divide) Ski Club. From 1950-88, Little was heavily involved with the workings of the International Ski Federation, World Championships and Olympic skiing.

He was appointed the manager of the 1960 U.S. Alpine Ski Team and refereed two Winter Olympics: Innsbruck in 1964, and Grenoble in 1968. He served as the vice president of the International Ski Federation from 1970-88.

In 1955, Little received the A. Leo Stevens Medal for his para-rescue work, and in 1965 he was enshrined into the U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame.

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