HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - A new statue called the Wounded Warrior/Combat Medic is coming to the Huntsville Madison County Veterans Memorial in downtown Huntsville.
Crews recently broke ground on the area behind the POW/MIA flag where it will be. You can see it to the left of the ramp off I-565. They are preparing the site where the statue will eventually be and working on a walkway to lead up to it.
"What you see over here today is they are laying the forms for the concrete work and eventually they will bring in the marble," said John Perry, Veterans Memorial Board Member.
The statue depicts two soldiers. One is wounded and a combat medic is treating him. They will be dressed in current uniforms, although we are told the statue as a whole will be a tribute to all combat medics, wounded warriors, and first responders from all agencies and branches of service during any war.
"We are looking at our Afghan and Iraqi War vets, but we are looking at all veterans from all wars because in each war we had wounded warriors and we had to have men and women to take care of them," Perry explained.
This project is a labor of love. Everyone involved wanted it to be just right, and it took five years to get the vision and funding together.
"When we first thought of the statue, we really thought about - we need to honor our first responders," Perry said. "The model for the wounded warrior is a young man who was actually wounded in Afghanistan. We are reenacting the time he got shot where the combat medics were actually administering first-aid. What the public will see when they look at the statue is a reenactment of when this young veteran, this young marine, was shot and wounded. He was actually walking us through it. What you see is actually what he remembered."
Local artist, Dan Burch, is the hands behind the vision. He has talked with WHNT News 19 about this incoming statue before during the fundraising phase. He has worked on other statues at the memorial, Perry said, including the Aviator statue. WHNT News 19 shared the story of his inspiration for that statue in 2015.
The walkway to the statue will be called the First Responder Walkway. Perry said Veterans Memorial Chairman Bob Drolet is working with Dale Strong, Chairman of the Madison County Commission, to fund it and tie it in with the local first responder community. He said this is all about honoring their work.
"Everyone can remember what happened after 9/11. That was first responders. We covered everything - firemen, paramedics, police," he said. "We have soldiers in uniform, but really it's to recognize all of our first responders."
Strong could not be reached for comment about his plans and vision for the walkway.
A dedication ceremony is expected sometime in May, but the date has not yet been set.
"We want to have a big celebration. We want to have a dedication. We want to invite all the first responders. We definitely want to invite the combat medics. We have a lot of them in town," Perry said. "Also, the wounded warriors, which we have a huge number of in town. We want to get the wounded warriors from all the wars."
Perry believes this will be the last addition to the memorial because space is getting limited at the location.