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King 56 Memorial
The granite memorial to the crew of King 56 includes an image of a C-130 flying overhead with a pararescueman being lowered to assist an injured servciemember on one side. The other side contains an inscription describing the tragedy that occurred Nov. 22, 1996, when a C-130 aircraft crashed with 10 Airmen from Portland, Ore., on board. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. James R. Wilson)
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Portland reservists remember King 56 crew

Posted 11/15/2006   Updated 11/16/2006 Email story   Print story


by Maj. James R. Wilson
939th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2006 - PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Air Force Reserve has found a new home for a memorial created in honor of 10 former Portland reservists.

Officials from the 939th Air Refueling Wing will re-dedicate the memorial in a ceremony Nov. 17 at Willamette National Cemetery.

The black granite marble stone monument was dedicated to the crew members of a C-130 aircraft, call sign King 56. They died when their plane crashed while on a training mission Nov. 22, 1996.

Members of the unit decided to move the monument from the Portland Air Base to the cemetery because the Base Realignment and Closure Commission decided to downsize Air Force Reserve Command's presence in Oregon.

"It was important for us to secure a more permanent home for this monument considering the drawdown of our mission," said Col. William Flanigan, 939th ARW commander. "We can't imagine a more appropriate place for this beautiful remembrance than Willamette National Cemetery, where so many of our nation's heroes are buried."

King 56 gained media attention in October after Air Force Mortuary officials received remains thought to be of a King 56 crewmember. A fishing boat crew discovered the remains in late September near Punta Gorda, Calif.

The Air Force used mitochondrial DNA to confirm the remains are of Staff Sgt. Jonathan R. Leonard. The sergeant was an Air Force intelligence specialist traveling with the crew en route to North Island, Calif.

Eight of the crewmembers from King 56 have markers or headstones at Willamette. (AFRC News Service)

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