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Fallen Brothers» Larry Groff and Lars Stratte

Line of Duty Death      Our condolences to the Groff and Stratte families and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Contract Pilots Larry Groff, 55, of Santa Rosa, and Lars Stratte, 45, of Chico, died Monday, August 27, 2001. Both pilots were flying converted Korean War-era Grumman S-2 submarine chasers capable of dumping 800 gallons of fire retardant, when they collided, killing both pilots.

     The pilots worked for San Joaquin Helicopters, a Delano, California based company the California Department of Forestry has contracted with for a number of years. Nine aircraft were being used to fight the 250 acre brush wildland fire about 8 miles south of Ukiah.

     Larry Groff, who had a 16-year-old stepson, spent the last two nonfire seasons flying United Nations cargo planes full of relief food to Sudan. Lars Stratte's neighbors described him as a loving father. When he was learning to fly fire missions in the S-2, he always tried to fly home to catch the last few innings of one of his son's baseball games.

     Memorial services for Lars Stratte will be held on Monday, September 3, 2001, 11AM, in Redding. Services for Larry Groff will be held on Tuesday, September 4, 2001, in Santa Rosa. Locations will be posted when more information is released.

     A fund has been set up in memory of both pilots. Those wishing to make a contribution can send their donations to:

Associated Airtanker Pilots
Memorial Trust Fund

Newhart Bookkeeping
711 D Healdsburg Ave.
Healdsburg, CA 95448
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