'American Sniper' statue coming soon to Texas
By COREY PAUL | Odessa American, Texas (Tribune News Services) | Published: January 31, 2016
Members of a foundation building a memorial statue of slain Navy sniper Chris Kyle say they expect to finish the project in time for a May unveiling at the Veteran Affairs clinic off Highway 191.
In recent weeks, a crew laid three massive pieces of limestone at the site, weighing a total of more than 40,000 pounds, which will form the foundation for the statue of Kyle, an Odessa native.
The stone came from a Garden City quarry, and Dale Meyer Trucking Company transported and set the stone for free, said Dick Gillham, one of the organizers of the project with the Odessa Community Foundation, which is a subsidiary of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s right there waiting for the statue,” Gillham said.
For now, members of the Odessa Community Foundation have declined to reveal the final look of the statue before the unveiling. But members have approved a miniaturized mock-up of the statue, with only minor details to be finalized, said Kirk Edwards, the CEO of Latigo Petroleum and another organizer of the project.
The sculptor tasked with crafting the 9-foot-tall statue of Kyle is Wyoming-based Vic Payne. His wife, Angie Payne, said in an interview that her husband uses a process known as lost-wax casting, which dates to Biblical times, to duplicate the bronze sculpture from his original. Angie Payne said the mold should be ready to go to a foundry “hopefully within the month.”
After the bronze is poured, cooled and spruced up, Payne will ship it to Odessa by truck, and it will be hoisted onto the limestone foundation by crane.
“We’ve all seen the concept mockup and it is going to be really exciting I think for the West Texas community,” Edwards said.
In the meantime, Edwards said the group is still raising money for the project, having reached about $300,000 out of a $400,000 goal. Gillham said the bulk of the remaining money is needed for the plaza that will accompany the statue.
Plans call for a 2,800-square-feet plaza composed of granite and Texas limestone, according to previous Odessa American articles.
The Ector County Hospital District will be the owner of the statue, and the district will also assume responsibility for upkeep and maintenance. There, organizers of the memorial project hope the statue will serve to honor all veterans.
In September, Kyle’s wife Taya Kyle announced her support for the statue and memorial plaza in Odessa, calling it “truly special” and writing in a statement that “I anticipate that from its proposed opening in spring 2016, we will see many proud Americans visiting the Chris Kyle Memorial to pay their respects to not just Chris, but all veterans."
Vic Payne has been consulting with Taya Kyle and Chris Kyle’s father, Wayne Kyle, about the final details of the sculpture.
The Odessa Community Foundation members are still planning the May unveiling ceremony, but Edwards said the idea is to try to include a broad group of people who played a part in Chris Kyle’s life and the works about him after his death, including family, military personnel and maybe some involved in the 2014 film.
“We will do whatever we can to attract the people who care a lot about this project,” Edwards said.
Contact Corey Paul at 432-333-7768.
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