A final $48,000 needs to be raised to complete the engraving of the names of the war dead on the back of the stones. Donation information included.
A long-anticipated memorial to fallen American soldiers is fast becoming a reality. The famed 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment of the US Army will hold a formal dedication for its new memorial to soldiers of the regiment killed in action in four wars.
According to LTC David Womack, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion of the Regiment, “The memorial has come to symbolize the strong bonds that unite the Currahees across generations and wars.” He said, “Those bonds – founded in pride, commitment and shared experience – explain the esprit de corps that is legendary in the 506th, and which is demonstrated in the success of this project.”
The dedication ceremony will take place on November 12, 2009 – the day after Veteran’s Day — in the 506th regimental area at Fort Campbell, KY. Fort Campbell is the home of the renowned 101st Airborne Division, parent unit of the 506th for much of its history.
The dramatic granite monument is the first on American soil to honor the men and women of the historic regiment. The memorial is composed of a central granite cenotaph on a broad plaza, flanked by six parachute-shaped monuments. These will ultimately include the names of all of the war dead. It is being paid for totally by contributions from veterans and active duty soldiers, families of former soldiers and other private citizens, along with in-kind contributions. Reaching the first milestone in the ambitious project — fundraising for erection of the slabs and chiseling of the names of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan — will be celebrated at the November dedication.
A major addition to the memorial: one of America’s foremost wildlife sculptors, Eugene Morelli, has contributed a dramatic bronze sculpture of a large soaring American Eagle to grace the entrance to the memorial. It will complement the memorial plaza itself and welcome visitors to the site.
Mr. Morelli’s sculpture, entitled “Majesty”, is a magnificent bronze sculpture of an eagle in full flight. The eagle is both the mascot of the 101st Airborne Division and a symbol of the spirit and resolution of America’s soldiers. The statue, with a nearly five-foot wingspan, will be mounted on a plinth in the memorial plaza.
Morelli lives with his wife, artist and sculptor Joan Zygmunt, in Montana. His works have received widespread recognition for their beauty and realism, which he attributes to his education as a wildlife biologist and the inspiration and support he received from his wife. One of his sculptures is part of the White House collection, while others have been exhibited nationally and internationally.
The Morellis were moved to make this contribution (valued at $20,000) in memory of Ms. Zygmunt’s nephew. Matthew Zygmunt was a soldier in the 506th Airborne Infantry regiment. He fought with the Currahees in Iraq in 2005-2006, returning safely only to die in an automobile accident in August 2009 as he prepared to enter college. “Matthew was very proud of his service with the 506th, and treasured his association with that organization,” said Morelli in an interview. “Our families have a strong military tradition, and Joan and I felt this sculpture was an appropriate and meaningful way to honor his memory.”
Mr. Morelli and his wife plan on attending the dedication service at Fort Campbell.
Fundraising for the balance of the project, to cover engraving of the names of casualties from World War II and Vietnam, is still underway. The 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment Association, a nonprofit veterans’ organization dedicated to the support of both active duty soldiers and veterans of the 506th regiment, is acting on behalf of the regiment to collect contributions in support of the memorial. The Association recently turned over to the regiment the proceeds from the first phase of the fundraising – a check for $8,000. People or organizations wishing to contribute can do so online with PayPal on the website, or by sending a check or money order.
The 506th Airborne Infantry Association is a charitable War Veterans Organization under IRS section 501(c) (19), and contributions are fully tax deductible.
For more information
Contact the John Lally from the 506th Airborne Infantry Association at (651) 788-03678 (Cell) (651) 451-0652 (Home) or via email
About the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment (Currahees)
The 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment – known as the “Currahees” – has been in the thick of the fighting in every major American conflict since it jumped behind enemy lines in Normandy on D-Day in World War II. It subsequently suffered over 1,400 soldiers killed in action in World War II, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and many thousands more wounded in action. Its history has been chronicled over the years in hit movies like “Saving Private Ryan” and the television series, “Band of Brothers.” The 506th is renowned for its valor in campaigns from the Battle of the Bulge in WWII to the battles of Hamburger Hill and Ripcord in Vietnam, and has been in the thick of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.