The Santa Barbara Airport has erected a memorial site at Vista Point near the long-term parking Lot to commemorate certain World War II veterans. The memorial will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The memorial is a black granite obelisk bearing the names of local aviators that perished during WWII and the Marine squadrons that trained at the airport during the war. Situated in a reflective setting with slate walkways, olive trees, benches and interpretive signage, the memorial overlooks the east end of the airfield.

The program for the dedication event includes a Marine Corps Color Guard, a proclamation presentation by Mayor Marty Blum, the laying of wreaths, a speech by Brig. Gen. Frederick Lopez and a reading of the local aviator names by local high school student body presidents. A fly-by of a FUCorsair and T28 aircraft are expected, as well as a 21-gun salute.

The Santa Barbara Airport was quickly transformed in 1942 by the U.S. government from a sleepy local airport to a Marine Corps Air Station to support national defense. The Marines constructed 103 buildings and installed about 5.5 million square feet of pavement on the site, which included the present day airport and much of the land that is now UCSB.

“As the airport redevelops in the future, some of the street names bearing the local aviators’ names may be decommissioned, and the recognition associated with the street names lost,” airport Director Karen Ramsdell said. “The memorial will help ensure that these individuals continue to be honored and remembered for their sacrifice.”

— Terri Gibson represents the Santa Barbara Airport.