By Wade Coggeshall
AVON — After nearly three years, the centerpiece of the World War II Memorial Park here is ready for display.
The public may view it during an open house from noon to 2 p.m. Jan. 19 at Avon Town Hall, 6570 E. U.S. 36. Bill Wolfe, the statue's sculptor, will also be on hand to discuss its creation and answer questions.
Michael Rogers, Avon Town Council president and a member of the Avon WW II Memorial Park Committee, says they worked through the American Legion to find Wolfe for the project.
"He's done memorials in other communities," Rogers said. That has included a veterans' memorial in Carmel and a Larry Bird monument at Indiana State University. "We invited him here and shared our ideas about having a soldier statue."
The soldier statue here is modeled after Brigadier Gen. Clyde "Chet" Wright, an Avon resident who served in the 139th Field Artillery Battalion, 38th Infantry Division, in WW II. Wright also is a member of the memorial committee.
"We thought this would be a great recognition of him and all the World War II veterans," Rogers said of the statue.
Wolfe used photos of Wright as a young man when creating the 6-foot, 300-pound statue. Committee members got to see it last week, including as it was cast in bronze by the Sincerus Bronze Art Center in Indianapolis.
"It was really an interesting process," said Rogers, who's pleased with the finished product. A Vietnam vet of the 101st Airborne, one of his favorite TV shows growing up was "Combat!," which ran on ABC from 1962 to '67. One of the main characters was Sgt. "Chip" Saunders, played by Vic Morrow.
"If you remember that show or ever see photographs, (the statue) looks so much like Vic Morrow that it comes right from that era," Rogers said. "I've never seen anything so true to life."
The statue is expected to be installed on a 5-foot, 16,000-pound granite base in the center of the memorial this spring. A dedication ceremony is being planned at the park, which is in the northwest corner of the Dan Jones Road and County Road 100 South roundabout.
Officials also hope to add six service monument stones, each in front of their military service flag, along with entry features like columns or decorative lighting. The memorial committee is seeking $10,000 to complete the park. Donations may be made online at AvonsGreatest.org or via mail at Avon WW II Memorial Park Committee, c/o Town of Avon, Attn: Clerk/Treasurer, 6570 E. U.S. 36, Avon, IN 46123.
Rogers has faith the memorial will be finished as envisioned, especially after the public gets a look at its centerpiece.
"We have people coming to town hall now making $100 and $200 donations," he said. "We're going to get this done. I have all the confidence in the world."