“Into the Wild Blue Yonder”
One day in the not too distant future, five new memorials will be incrementally added to the hallowed grounds of the Northern California Veterans Cemetery in Igo, California. One memorial for each of the five military services, including the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. They will be placed geometrically around the cemetery’s main flag circle, the favored site of such programs as Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Wreaths Across America.
In November 2011, Secretary Peter J. Gravett, California Department of Veterans Affairs, formally approved the service memorial project concept. Included in this approval was the go-ahead to begin work on the first of the five service memorials, this one dedicated to the men and women of the United States Air Force. If things go as planned, a dedication ceremony of the Air Force memorial is slated for 2013/2014.
“Although it will be the first service-oriented monument at the state-operated facility, it will likely not be the last”, said Stephen Jorgensen, cemetery administrator.
“We included the concept of memorials for all five branches of service — the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army and Coast Guard — along with this proposal and that concept has been approved by Secretary Gravett. Now we have a place for each service memorial and we have set parameters for height and size for all of them,” Jorgensen explained.
The 14-foot tall bronze and aluminum memorial, a symbol of the Air Force’s history and mission, is titled “Into the Wild Blue Yonder”. When constructed, it will include a bronze globe 6-feet in diameter resting atop a 3-foot high pyramid with an 8-foot square base. Encircling the globe and thrusting 6 to 8-feet upward will be an aluminum contrail or aircraft path ending in a deltoid-shaped aerospace vehicle.
“Each side of the pyramid base will feature a different inscription including a memorial dedication, an explanation of the memorial’s symbolism, lyrics to the Air Force song and the evolution of the Air Force”, explained retired Air Force Colonel Pete Stiglich of Cottonwood, who is chairing the Air Force memorial committee comprised of local veterans and civilians.
The memorial was created by local Redding artist and Vietnam combat veteran, Gideon Carl Turner III. Fabrication will be accomplished by Vietnam veteran and owner of Eagle Iron Works, Steve Trammell and his son, Khay, of Anderson, CA.
The globe depicts the earth and its continents. Four talons of a falcon, the Air Force mascot, hold a protective grasp over the United States. The talons then morph into a single contrail encircling the globe to represent the global reach and mission of the Air Force. Completing its elliptical course, the contrail then soars skyward and departs the bounds of earth as a deltoid shape enters the heavens.
“What we are doing is creating a shrine to our Veterans, both living and dead,” Jorgensen explained. “It has never been my vision for this place to simply be a cemetery. A shrine must contain a variety of memorials where people can come to appreciate the history, sacrifice and military contributions of the countless veterans who have served our country so unselfishly.”
Kellie Jokela, who chairs the Northern California Veterans Cemetery Support Board (NCVCSB), said of the Air Force monument, “It is my extreme hope that we are able to continue these kinds of activities. The grounds are beautiful and reflect the respectful ambiance that we want for our fallen heroes.”
“I cannot think of a better way to show our appreciation for the dedication of those who served in the U.S. Air Force than to have a memorial erected in their honor,” Jokela said.
Fundraising is underway to cover the costs of creating and constructing the memorial. Engraved pavers are available for a donation that will be used to create the pad upon which the memorial will be placed. A High Flight Club is also available for individual, group and corporate donors.
Anyone interested in learning more about the Air Force memorial or wishing to order an inscribed paver for a loved one is invited to visit the Air Force Memorial’s official website at www.usafmemorial.org and Facebook page at USAF Memorial. Donations can be mailed to NCVSB, P.O. Box 177, Redding, CA 96099-0177. Please make checks payable to NCVCSB – AF Memorial.
The Northern California Veterans Cemetery Support Board operates under the umbrella of the Northern California Veterans Support Group (“NCVSG”), a nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable organization under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.