MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – During an unassuming ceremony Friday morning, Science and Engineering Services, Inc. (SES) of Huntsville presented the Madison County Veterans Memorial Foundation with a check. It’s to support the first of four new statues. The first of which, the Aviator Statue, is being modeled after Marine Captain Trey Wilbourne.
Aviators are important to SES. That's why they jumped behind this project, to honor them all.
"Aviation is a key part of our defense capability and Huntsville is the center of that," said SES Chairman and President Hyo Sang Lee. "For us, supporting that as a country and a community is very important."
"All of us know that the future of our military is based on the legacy," added SES CEO E.J. Sinclair.
Captain Wilbourne's mother Joyce played an integral role in helping a local artist perfectly capture her son.
"Let's see, I started, I think, late December."
All from a lump of clay. Day by day the figure of Trey Wilbourne is taking shape at the hands of artist Dan Burch of Meridian Arts in Gurley. Wilbourne was the only casualty Madison County suffered in the Persian Gulf War. His mother has championed the statue for nearly 2 years.
"Just very thankful that they decided to do this," Wilbourne beamed. "I'm excited about the statue -- Dan is making much progress on it."
The body model is Joyce Wilbourne`s grandson Cole, who has similar stature and build as Trey. But Burch must use photos and videos of Captain Wilbourne for facial modeling.
"That helps a lot working posthumously like this. It makes it more difficult but just the same I want to do my best work that I can and do the best job that I can to represent Trey and this monument. I like the challenge."
Burch has worked for months to collect the data needed to make the sculpture true to form. The monument is actually 110% life scale.
"A little bit larger than life."
It will certainly be a larger than life experience when Joyce Wilbourne sees her son immortalized on Veteran's Day 2015.
"We're going to be ready by November 11th."
Dan Burch estimates it will take about 10 more weeks of studio work before he's ready to make the mold and send it off to be cast in bronze at a Colorado foundry. He says that process usually takes up to 6 months.