He is caught mid-stride, gloves in one hand, with his map case tucked under his arm. His shoulders are squared, his jaw is set. He might be striding out to his B-17, warming up on the runway at Snetterton Heath, ready to leave the coast of England and head for Berlin.
He is “Fly Boy,” representing the Army Air Corps, the fifth 20th Century Veterans Memorial sculpture. Currently at the foundry, Fly Boy and the sixth and final sculpture will be installed at the memorial along the Walk of Honor before Veterans Day, according to board member Jim Beckius.
“We’ve been working on this project for nearly nine years,” Beckius said. “It will be a relief to have it finished.”
Cambridge artist Sondra Jonson used a live model, Josh Keener of Cambridge, to create the sculpture, and created the uniform based on an actual World War II navigator uniform borrowed from the Cambridge museum. The map case and boots were replicated from actual ones displayed at the WWII Museum in Greenwood.
“Josh is a friend of my son,” Jonson said. “I always knew I wanted to paint his portrait or sculpt his face. The memorial sculpture was a stroke of good fortune.”
For the final sculpture, representing the Coast Guard, Jonson had a Coast Guard member to model for her.
“You can’t really see his face,” Jonson said. “He has binoculars up to his face.”
Jonson was commissioned to create the two pieces after the death of North Platte artist Ted Long earlier this year. Long was commissioned to create “Defenders of Liberty” at the entrance to the Memorial. Long also created the sculptures of a WWII pilot, a Vietnam-era infantryman, and an Iraq War combat medic, along with the two larger-than-life eagles that sit atop the memorial’s arched entrance.
Long had begun work on the fourth piece, that of a Korean War-era Marine shortly before he died. His artist son, Patrick, completed the work, and it will also be installed before Veterans Day.
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