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'American Sniper' statue unveiling now scheduled for July

Chris Kyle poses with a copy of his book in April, 2012.

PAUL MOSELEY/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

By COREY PAUL | Odessa American, Texas | Published: April 6, 2016

ODESSA, Texas (Tribune News Service) — Members of a foundation building a memorial stature of slain Navy sniper Chris Kyle say they pushed back a planned unveiling of the project from May to July to accommodate changes to the work guided by input from the Odessa native’s surviving family members.

The Wyoming-based sculptor who is a crafting the statue, Vic Payne, was on his way to visit Kyle’s parents Tuesday to show them the latest version of the monument that he plans to finish in about a week, said Angie Payne, the sculptor’s wife and business manager. Then, the work will head to a foundry for several weeks before it is sent to the Veterans Affairs clinic off Highway 191.

Vic Payne redid the statue in the past few months after consulting with family members, Angie Payne said.

“In light of this sculpture here, he is wanting to make sure that everybody is going to be happy with it,” said Angie Payne, and they wanted to make sure the reveal date was doable. “. . . What Vic wants to do more than anything is to make sure that for the citizens of Odessa, Chris’ parents, Chris’ widow and his children, it is something that brings honor to them. That’s his main goal.”

As planned now, designs and a monument of the Kyle statue is “totally different” from Vic Payne’s initial work, his wife said.

Kyle’s widow, Taya Kyle, visited the Paynes during the weekend and posted online her praise of the project and of the sculptor.

“Being in Vic's studio was emotional and moving,” Taya Kyle wrote. “The peace in his studio was palpable.”

Vic Payne, she wrote, “is a man who cares so deeply about getting every detail and nuance right and it shows.”

Angie Payne said Kyle’s children wrote messages to their father on the sculpture that will be included in the final statue. After Vic Payne finishes, he will send a mold to a Utah bronze foundry.

There, over several weeks, foundry workers will use a process known as lost-wax casting, which dates to Biblical times, to duplicate the bronze sculpture from his original.

Odessa Community Foundation organizers, which is a subsidiary of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, expect the statue to arrive in Odessa sometime in June, Kirk Edwards said.

Edwards, the CEO of Latigo Petroleum and one of the organizers with the foundation, said organizers are still planning an unveiling ceremony and have no firm date, but want Kyle’s family members to be able to attend, along with military personnel and maybe some involved in the 2014 film about Kyle, “American Sniper.”

Organizers did not want to rush the redesigned project, originally planned for a May unveiling around Memorial Day.

“What is important is to get the family involved in this,” Edwards said. “So the sculptor, he is going probably beyond his original scope that he would probably normally do on a statue.”

To date, the foundation has met its fundraising goal of about $400,000, but organizers are still raising money. Plans call for a 2,800-square-feet plaza composed of granite and Texas limestone.

Crews have already laid massive pieces of limestone at the site, weighing a total of more than 40,000 pounds, which form the foundation of the statue of Kyle.

But Edwards said additional money raised could be used for work on a plaza accompanying a statue, such as lettering, granite and marble side walls, that would have followed the unveiling.

Organizers have released few details about the appearance of the statue, saying they want it to be a surprise at the unveiling. But Edwards said the bronze Kyle statue will be larger than the 9-foot-tall figure originally planned. Instead, Edwards said the statue will stand about 15 feet tall.

“It’s gorgeous,” Edwards said. “It’s so pretty.”

©2016 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)
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