Project Roll Call

Otho Mack

  • Firefighter
  • Gateway Hose Company
  • Montana
  • Year of Death: 1974

Otho Mack was born on July 27, 1904 in Jardine, Montana to George and Elizabeth (Andersen) Mack. Otho’s mother left when he was a young boy so his father, who was a barber in Gardiner, raised him alone. Otho received his education in Gardiner.

When Otho registered for the draft in 1942, he was employed at Gardiner Light and Water Co. A July 25, 1942 newspaper article stated that even though he had just been accepted by the US Army, “the Gardiner Firemen at a meeting this week re-elected officers as follows: Otho Mack, chief.” He served in the US Army at Camp Sibert, Alabama.

Otho met Eva Lorraine Lister, who was from Alabama, during the Second World War and they married in Alabama in December 1942. He took a barbering course while in Alabama and returned home to become Gardiner’s town barber.

Otho served as the fire chief of Gateway Hose Company, Gardiner’s volunteer fire department, for thirty-four years. At the time of his death he was retired as chief but was still an active member with the department. On July 25, 1974, he drove up the road toward Jardine, east of Gardiner, to monitor a fire near Eagle Creek. The wind suddenly changed direction and the Ford Bronco he was in was engulfed by flames and exploded. Otho was badly burned and was driven to the Mammoth Hot Springs clinic in Yellowstone National Park. He walked into the clinic under his own power, then was transported to Livingston Memorial Hospital where he died within ten hours of the accident. First-, second-, and third-degree burns covered sixty percent of his body. The fire would grow to more than 140 acres before it was contained by firefighters, townspeople and a detachment from Yellowstone National Park and US Forest Service crews.

Otho left behind his wife and daughter Phyllis. His son Francis had died in an off-road automobile accident in Utah, not long after he had returned from Vietnam.

This firefighter line of duty fatality occurred before the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial was built in Emmitsburg, Maryland. While this firefighter has not been officially honored at the Memorial site, there are plans to do so when resources are available.

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Memorial Wall

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