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Darby statue project 'rolling' in Fort Smith

By Chad Hunter | Times Record, Fort Smith, Ark. | Published: February 11, 2016

FORT SMITH, Ark. (Tribune News Service) — Fort Smith’s parks panel heard an update Wednesday on an effort to honor famed war hero Gen. William O. Darby with a bronze statue at Cisterna Park.

Retired U.S. Army Ranger Joe Armstrong and wife, Liz, created the Darby Legacy Project to raise funds for the statue effort. Addressing the Fort Smith Parks Commission, Liz Armstrong said the statue will be unveiled to the public at 10 a.m. April 30 during the second annual Steel Horse Rally.

“The monument is already all cast in bronze,” she said. “Now they’re starting to put it together.”

On April 26, a group of 100 motorcyclists and Army Rangers will travel to Norman, Okla., for a “Bringing General Darby Home” ride to pick up the statue and deliver it to Fort Smith, Armstrong said.

“It will be set, mounted and ready for the unveiling,” she added.

Work has begun on the statue’s base at Cisterna Park, Armstrong said.

“It’s starting,” she said. “We got our construction donated in kind, the concrete and rebar. We’re rolling.”

To raise funds for the monument, the Darby Legacy Project sold “memorial” bricks that will be engraved to honor a person or group for placement at Cisterna Park. The bricks were $75 apiece.

“We sold all 500 of our bricks,” Armstrong said. “We set our limit at 500 to represent the original 500 Ranger volunteers.”

While the $165,500 monument itself is paid for, funds are still being raised for “all those little things at the end of a project you didn’t even know to ask about,” Armstrong said.

Born in Fort Smith on Feb. 8, 1911, Gen. Darby founded the famed “Darby’s Rangers” group that fought in Italy during World War II. Darby was killed in action April 30, 1945, at Torbole, Italy. He is buried at the U.S. National Cemetery in Fort Smith.

The larger-than-life, 15-foot tall monument features Darby on a motorcycle, as seen in a photo during the war.

©2016 Times Record (Fort Smith, Ark.)
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