Skip to Content
County Administrator's Office

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County supervisors authorize $50,000 toward memorial honoring WWII airmen who died during training

SANTA ROSA, CA | June 06, 2023

The Board of Supervisors today authorized $50,000 toward a memorial honoring the lives of airmen who died in Sonoma County while training to fight in World War II. The town of Windsor has also committed $50,000 to the installation, which will consist of three granite panels on the Windsor Town Green.      

The memorial will commemorate 59 airmen who died while training at Santa Rosa Army Airfield, now the site of Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport. Additionally, the memorial will honor more than 20 others who crashed in Sonoma County during flights from nearby military airbases, such as Hamilton Army AirField in Marin County and Alameda Naval Air Station. Because it was wartime, there was little or no media coverage of the deaths at the time. But years of exhaustive investigation by dedicated local researchers has documented these fatalities.

“It is fitting to finally honor these brave young men. They came to Sonoma County from across the U.S. and paid the ultimate sacrifice while training to defend our country,” said Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore, whose district includes the airport and Windsor. “We are grateful for the passion and persistence of local researchers, and our partnership with Windsor and other local groups so that we may finally give these lives the attention and respect they deserve.”

In 1941, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors began to secure options to buy land northwest of Santa Rosa, anticipating that the Department of Defense would build a military airfield at the location. The airfield was established as a military pilot training center in January 1943 and operated until November 1945. It featured two 5,400-foot runways, hundreds of aircraft and thousands of personnel.  

Karen Alves, a local resident who heard about the many crashes as a young girl, and Steve Lehman of the Windsor Historical Society, have worked for years to ensure the service of these veterans is remembered. In addition to their research, they will secure enough additional funding to cover the remaining cost for the design and installation of the memorial.

Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District has approved installation of the memorial. The funding approved today by the Board of Supervisors will be appropriated from Lytton Mitigation funds, part of a 2015 agreement between the Lytton Rancheria of California and the county. This fund, originally $6 million, offsets the impacts of the tribe’s development of a 124-acre site that is under construction and will include  95 single-family homes, 24 senior cottages, 28 townhomes, a Community Center and a Roundhouse. The agreement prevents gaming on the proposed site and the project was approved by Congress in January 2020. The current balance of the fund is $4.6 million.          

Media Contact: 
Dave Dulberg, Communications Specialist
(707) 565-3040
575 Administration Drive, Suite 104A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403