Kings County is home to several military memorials, such as the the Prisoner of War memorial in Lemoore and the Wall of Heroes in Hanford. But there is nothing dedicated to aviators who died in the line of duty.
That's about to change.
Naval Air Station Lemoore’s Aviator Memorial Association will host a groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 12 at 10:30 a.m. for its long-awaited memorial to fallen aviators. Media and the public are invited to attend, and base access is not required.
The site of the memorial is located on Reeves Bypass, just south of the operations gate and Grangeville Blvd.
The memorial will be a 7-foot tall bronze statue that overlooks one of the air station’s runways. The statue will be surrounded by memorial grounds, filled with donor bricks of those who donated to the cause.
The goal was to situate the memorial where many still come to watch the pilots train and perform.
Two naval aviators stationed at the air station were inspired to form the NAS Lemoore Aviator Memorial Association last year, in part, to honor their friend and fellow pilot Lt. Matthew Ira Lowe, who was killed on April 6, 2011 while training. Weapons systems operator Lt. Nathan Hollingsworth Williams was also killed in the crash.
While researching the project, Kenny told The Sentinel they spoke with a number of Vietnam War veterans and learned that Lemoore is believed to have lost more pilots during the war than any other air base.
The project has been paid for entirely by donations and fundraiser events. The local community stepped up in force to support the memorial effort, with many citizens giving up their time and money to see the project through to fruition.
For more information, contact NAS Lemoore Public Affairs Officer Melinda Larson, office (559) 998-3393, cell (559) 381-0592 or (602) 540-2969.