Thursday, October 23, 2014

In Memoriam


Out in California, in the San Joaquin Valley, lies Naval Air Station Lemoore. Home to five Carrier Air Wings (2, 5, 9, 11 and 17 - 5 is forward deployed to Japan) and 20 fighter attack squadrons (four of them forward deployed with CAG 5), NAS Lemoore is the newest and largest Master Jet Base in the United States Navy.

Overlooking the runway at Lemoore is that bronze statue above, dedicated to the men and women of Naval Aviation from NAS Lemoore who lost their lives in the line of duty, serving their country, faces to the foe.

The WSO sent me a few photos after her return from a deployment to Key West. I can't wait to get out there and see the memorial for myself. It means a lot to me and to many others.

The insignia of the units which call Lemoore "home" line the way.

The second one in is VFA-2, The WSO's outfit.
Pinch might recognize the next one after the Bullets.

A little further up (VFA-25) - Lex is wearing that patch in his photo at the top o' the blog.

In position off the statue's starboard side is a memorial to Captain Carroll LeFon.
To which so many folks contributed.

Shortly after the statue was put in place and a ceremony to dedicate the site was held, the Navy's Blue Angels, on their way to Fleet Week in San Francisco, put on a small show to salute the new memorial. (The next two photos are from the NAS Lemoore Aviator Memorial Association Facebook page.)



Those who were there tell me that it was a wonderful display by the Blues, the perfect finish to the commemoration of this place. Why, you may wonder, is this memorial so meaningful to me personally?

I spent 24 years in the Air Force, most of it in aviation units. My son-in-law and my youngest daughter are in Naval Aviation. Everyone who has spent any amount of time in an aviation unit either knows someone, or has friends who know someone who one day...

Slipped the surly bonds...

Climbed sunward...

Swept up the long, long delirious burning blue...*

And didn't come home.

I knew someone, I called him friend.

I remember him and those like him, never to be forgotten. I pray.


From an idea...

Dook and the sculptor (Facebook)
To reality...


For those who may be interested.
NAS Lemoore AMA is a non-profit organization founded by LCDR Erik "Dook" Kenny and LCDR Ben "Julie" Charles, both stationed onboard Naval Air Station Lemoore. Over the past year, the AMA has raised enough funds to build a memorial dedicated to all aviators attached to NAS Lemoore who lost their lives. 
The memorial is a 7' tall bronze statue that overlooks our main runway, 32L. The statue is surrounded by memorial grounds, filled with donor bricks of those who graciously donated to our cause.
Erik and Ben, along with three local board members, Charlie Meyer, Travis Lopes, and Guy Brautigam, continue to fundraise to support the familes of the fallen and future military and community efforts. We still have bricks available (4x8 and 8x8 bricks) so please send us a message or call Ben at 361.816.1986 or Erik at 410.499.4130 if you are interested.
The different ways to donate are:
  • Send a check payable to NAS LEMOORE AMA to 230 Lake Drive, Lemoore, CA, 93245
  • Call Ben at 361.816.1986 or Erik at 410.499.4130 for a credit card donation
  • PayPal account at ekenny78@gmail.com
Donations of $250 will received an engraved brick (4x8) that will be part of the memorial, $500 - engraved brick (8x8) with a logo, visit their Facebook page.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

*From High Flight - John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

14 comments:

  1. NAS Lemoore's got some "see 'em coming" vistas, neh?

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    Replies
    1. Definitely "wide open spaces" out that way.

      San Joaquin Valley is flat as flat can be. If you go to Google Maps and use the "Terrain" setting, there are no contour markings anywhere near Lemoore.

      (Yes, I just did that. Google Map fan that I am.)

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    2. Well, now that Juvat mentioned it... Lemoore has GOT to be one of the most desolate-looking bases in the Free World. Cannon would be a player in those sweepstakes, too.

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    3. Yup, Lemoore is way out there. Out in raisin producing land.

      When they say sun-kissed (Sunkist) they mean it. Literally.

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    4. Well, this may be TMI, but here goes. I was conceived in Hanford. I don't remember much about it.

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    5. Hahaha.

      Good to know, Dave. Good to know.

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  2. Nice pictures Sarge!

    I remember when Lemoore was being built - my family moved to Fresno from LA in 1960, and lived there for 2 years. I mean, when you drive to Visalia to have a good time and see the city, you are ...out there!

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    Replies
    1. Ah Fresno. I like flying in and out of there. Small airport, has full scale mock-ups of giant sequoias in the terminal. Kind of cool.

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  3. Before Lemoore there were all kinds of planes at Moffett Field.
    It was great fun to drive past on US 101 and see what the Navy was up to at that particular moment.
    Later, it was just P-3s... not much to see there... and the occasional NASA plane.

    The big military action in the valley was at Merced, where SAC flew B-36s out of Castle AFB.

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    Replies
    1. My sources tell me that the former Castle AFB has a very nice museum. It's not far from my son's place so I may need to pay it a visit next time I'm out that way.

      I imagine that there used to be all sorts of cool military stuff in the San Francisco area. Not so much anymore.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)