Deportee Memorial Commemorative Print

As some of you may know, since the start of this research project on the 28 Mexican brothers and sisters who died in the plane crash at Los Gatos Canyon I have been working with videographer, Ken Leija, documenting every step of the way. Presently, we have nearly a hundred hours of video and audio interviews, photographs, footage and rare documents (which will eventually need to be archived). The result of this footage will be a documentary about the search, not only for the 32 people who died aboard the plane, but a search for the facts of what happened that fateful day. However, in order to see this to fruition we need appeal to you, the community. Along the way, visual artists have been critical in making all of this happen. It is in this spirit that we present you with our latest opportunity to help this story live on.


Jane Oriel Art


Bay Area visual artist, Jane Oriel, has created this one-of-a-kind print specifically to commemorate the memorial and benefit the documentary fundraising effort.  This “Deportee Memorial Limited Edition Print” is Hand Silkscreened on Arches 140 lb. paper. 19 ¾’ x 13’ with a deckled edge border, and includes a poem by me along with all 28 names of the Mexican passengers. Each print is signed and numbered. Costs are:





The Memorial Headstone & Event

Hey friends, I thought you might like to see where your $10,000 are going! I’m so happy to report that the progress on the memorial ledger is now underway, and so many exciting developments are unfolding every day. Maybe some of you had a chance to finally meet Mr. Jaime Ramirez via the article that came out in the Los Angeles Times recently. His family’s story gets even more amazing and I can’t wait to share this with you in my book.

Below is a photo of me at the headstone that used to be at the gravesite, and below that is the foundation for the new headstone. You can see where they’ve imbedded the old headstone into the concrete, so that folks can see the history.

Right now the memorial event is being planned and I’ll be posting up a flyer-invitation very soon, but for now I can tell you that there’ll be a variety of music, ceremony, possibly some Aztec dancers, and of course, the unveiling of the beautifully finished memorial headstone. It’ll be both a time for contemplation and celebration.

Also, the day before the event, I’ll be hosting a rare opportunity for the community (YOU!) to share dinner and discussion with the circle of people who were directly involved in this historical incident. Guests will include the family of Frank & Bobbi Atkinson (the pilot and stewardess), the family and friends of Martin Hoffman  (the musician who composed the melody to the song we all know and love today), June Leigh Austin (daughter of the property owners and first responders), Deana McCloud (Executive of the Woody Guthrie Center), and the Ramirez-Paredes family (descendants of two of the Mexican passengers). Please email me directly for details.

Some of the media: The Los Angeles Times, Univision/ ABC, The Story with Dick Gordon on NPR, Telemundo, NPR Tell Me More with Michele Martin, The California Report (KQED), The Pilsen Portal, Tulsa World Newspaper, Univision/ Central Cal, KVPR Valley Public Radio, The Fresno Bee, The Victoria Advocate, and Vida En El Valle.

THE MEMORIAL EVENT: Monday September 2, 2013, 10 am, Holy Cross Cemetery, 2105 West Belmont Ave., Fresno, California 93728

Photos: Top Photo, Tim at old headstone, Bottom Photo, Credit: Lydia Z. Hernandez, 7/2013

“(Deportee) Plane Wreck at Los Gatos” Memorial Needs Your Help

For 65 years the remains of the 28 unnamed plane crash victims have been buried in a mass grave at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno with a small placard that simply reads “28 Mexican Nationals who died in a plane crash are buried here.” Now that we have the names of all 28 passengers our aim is to erect a new headstone listing their names and essentially putting back a piece of American history. But to make this memorial a reality we need to raise $10,000. Please consider making a donation. For your contribution your name will be listed on the program which will be handed out at the public event. This historical event will take place on September 2, 2013, Labor Day, and all are invited. Please consider ANY AMOUNT, big or small. This is truly a community endeavor, and it will require your generosity to make happen. Below are five easy ways you can support this project.






For more information on the plane crash research, book, and memorial click here.

To listen to the radio interview on KVPR click here.

To contact Tim Hernandez directly:  

28 Deportees Memorial Headstone

Be a Part of History…

In tandem with the Fresno Diocese and Holy Cross Cemetery, we are working to raise money to erect a new headstone listing the names of all 28 passengers who were killed in a plane crash on January 28, 1948 in Los Gatos Canyon in Fresno County.

In brief, this is the same incident that American folk musician Woody Guthrie wrote the lyrics about in his song, “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (The Deportee Song).” Angered over the fact that all the major newspapers of the time had omitted the names of the 28 “Mexican nationals” yet included the names of the government officials, Guthrie wrote a poem with the intention of restoring their dignity. Years later a school-teacher named Martin Hoffman composed a melody for it, and since then the tune has been recorded by the likes of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen and many others. For more info about the crash and my research please click here.

Me standing in the exact location of where the plane crashed.

Me standing in the exact location of where the plane crashed.

We Need Your Help

We need to raise $10,000 in order to accomplish this beautiful memorial and lasting tribute to the 28 lives who have been buried without their names for 65 years at Fresno’s Holy Cross Cemetery. The current headstone simply reads “28 Mexican Citizens Who Died in An Airplane Crash…”

In effort to give the whole community an opportunity to be a part of this historical endeavor we are accepting donations of any amount. For your contribution, your name will be listed as a donor on the program handout we will be passing out at the public event (date to be determined).

You can send your contributions either to me or directly to the cemetery. If you send to me I’ll mail you back a signed thank you card with an excerpt from my book-in-progress, which is tentatively titled, All They Will Call You…