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Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear!
Today Smokey Bear (adding a “the” is optional) turns 68 years old. Smokey was born in 1944 and his first words were: “Care will prevent nine out of ten forest fires!”
The United States Forest Service (USFS) quickly issued Smokey a hat, bucket, and a pair of jeans to make his likeness suitable for distribution on posters emblazoned with the public service announcement (PSA).
From then on he was named the official “spokesbear” for wildfire prevention and mascot of the USFS replacing Bambi (on loan from Disney for a limited engagement only). Bambi and Smokey would combine forces for a PSA in 2010.
In 2001 his PSA slogan changed from “Remember, Only you can prevent forest fires!” to “Remember, Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.” The campaign is the Ad Council's longest running and most memorable.
Smokey will celebrate his birthday with the USFS, the Texas Forest Service, and NASA at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. It will be a working holiday for Smokey; he is scheduled to tour the center and record a promotional announcement for NASA Television.
The USFS and NASA collaboration may sound unusual but was created in 1971 when Smokey was in his early twenties.
That year NASA astronaut Stuart Roosa of Apollo 14 and a former USFS smokejumper, orbited the moon with a pack of 500 tree seeds as part of a joint project between the two agencies.
After Apollo 14 returned to Earth the seeds were planted at USFS nurseries and monitored to see if they would grow healthy. Four years later the “moon trees” a selection of loblolly pine, sycamore, Douglas fir, and sweetgum trees were distributed across the country and world to be planted after suffering no side affects from being in space. They were almost promptly forgotten about until a historian began a search for the trees to create an official database because no had thought to keep a detailed record.
NASA loves Smokey so much his plush likeness was launched into space on May 14th of this year when astronaut Joe Acaba and the Expedition 31 crew of the ISS chose a Smokey stuffed animal to be the team's launch mascot.
Yesterday he tweeted his “birth certificate” (courtesy of the Ad Council): a previously unreleased memo from R.F. Hammatt, who was the United States Forest Service Director of the Wartime Forest Fire Prevention Campaign, that outlined the artistic vision for Smokey. The Office of War Information’s artists were instructed to give the bear “a rifle like G.I. Joe” but to steer clear of drawing “the bear that symbolizes Russia.”
Smokey unabashedly shared his AARP card (issued in 1994 when he turned 50) with his followers too, proving that he isn’t ashamed of being eligible for senior discounts.
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.