"The Memorial Statue"
the Media Editor
about These Photos
- The Big Guy
- The Installation
- The Dedication
- The Story
|Installed||August 22, 2009|
|Dedicated||December 19, 2009|
|Statue||Created by Jason Arkles and Forged at Liberty Arts Foundry, Durham, NC
Measures 6'11" Tall and is Made of Bronze - With Base: Total Height is 13'3"
|Base||Created by New Future Granite Co, Elberton, GA
Measures 4' x 4' x 6' High and is Made of "Premium Jet" Black Granite
|Kick Plate||Measures 4'6" x 4'6" x 6" High and Protects the Names Engraved on the Lower Base|
Prior to the 50th anniversary of the Golden Knights in 2009, many ideas for commemorating this unique event were being discussed and planned by active and alumni Team members. At the Alumni reunion of 2007, the concept of creating a Memorial statue and base was conceived. The new Museum and Team area had been completed in 2003, and the empty area in the front lawn seemed a perfect place to erect a monument to those who had been the heart of the Team's 50-year history.
By the summer of 2008, a full-fledged effort was underway to design, fund and prepare for the monument. The base was designed to display the names of all those who had been a Golden Knight or who been an integral part of the history of the Golden Knights. One huge problem existed. No one had ever compiled a roster of the Golden Knights.
Many statue designs and artists were considered. Although only one design was chosen, they all offered a meaningful tribute to the legacy of the Golden Knights and honored the traditions of the Knights. Ultimately, the design chosen was based on the statuette that the early Golden Knights were awarded as a memento when they left the Team. This statuette was awarded in the 1960s and 1970s.
Photo of Jason Arkles and the Big Guy at left by John Gessener. Copyright 2010.
The project roster included the Team members as of the inception of the USAPT in 1961, selected STRAC Sport Parachute Team members who participated in the program between 1959-1961, early Team aviators, selected Department of the Army personnel and selected civilians.
The person most instrumental in compiling the roster was George Torrealba. His tireless efforts resulted in the recovery of information about the Golden Knights that is priceless. Expecting to have months yet to complete the search, George was informed in February 2009, that the complete list was needed in 30 days.
By March 2009, the list was almost complete, enough so that a template was cut by the stone crafters on March 6th. The names are arranged by decade and/or category. In the event that other names needed to be added in the future, Skip purposefully left space after each section.
On May 9th, Jason Arkles began pouring the statue. The "pour" was completed in late July, and the statue was ready to be delivered 31 days later.
August 22, 2009
On an overcast, sweltering day in August, the base and statue arrived at Team headquarters in Fort Bragg, NC. Spirits were soaring. A crowd of active and alumni Team members, family and friends gathered to witness the culmination of years of planning, fundraising and anticipation. Without mishap, the base and statue came home.
FYI: When laying large stone pillars like the base of the statue, ice packs are laid as a foundation. The pillar can then be more easily repositioned. As the ice melts, the pillar settles into place.
December 19, 2009
A crowd of alumni, family members and friends gathered for the official dedication of the monument. The tribute obviously meant a great deal to all who attended. So many memories. So much history. Many family members made rubbings of the names of their loved ones. The monument will stand as an enduring tribute to the efforts and dedication of so many who have served their country with honor and skill.
Many people contributed to the success of this project: alumni Treasurer Spider Wrenn, alumni President Sonny Hill, Team Commander LTC Tony Dill, Media Relations Director Donna Dixon, and so many more. Apologies to those who were not named. Also, Thank You to all the family members who supported the men and women who worked so hard on this project. Their understanding and encouragement did not go unnoticed.
Photos by Regina Hudson, except as noted.
Footnote: Before it was fully settled, alumnus, RJ Smith, placed a team coin underneath the massive stone base.