Statue Could Solidify Navy, City Bond

U.S. Coast Guard photo
U.S. Coast Guard photo

A bronze statue of a Naval aviator in uniform, gazing into the distance with helmet held at his side, will represent remembrance and a long-standing partnership between Corpus Christi and the air station.

The statue, which will be modeled after a similar one at Naval Air Station Lemoore in Lemoore, California, would stand at 7 feet, and honor the aviators and crewmen killed while serving the United States.

Although the Aviator Memorial Association out of Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is still raising funds for the statue, establishing its permanent home in Ropes Park is a City Council vote away.

Corpus Christi is a patriotic city, said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Keech, who founded the nonprofit with Lt. Cmdr. Chad Kirk. Both are flight instructors and aviators at the base.

"This for us ... is just another way we're tightening the bond between the city and the military," said Keech, a 14-year veteran who is serving his third tour at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi.

Part of what makes Ropes Park an appealing spot is its popularity and accessibility, said Stacie Talbert Anaya, parks and recreation assistant director. It's in an area where many people pass on their way home, she added.

"It's really a neat little park and it's got a little overlook," she said. "Not everyone knows that. A lot of people take pictures there."

The agreement between the aviator memorial association and the city states the association would be responsible for donating and maintaining the statue.

The City Council is set to vote on the agreement Dec. 8.

The statue would cost about $107,000, Keech said, and is being paid through donations. They are about halfway to that goal, he said.

After funding the statue, the nonprofit seeks to create a scholarship fund that would benefit children of aviators who were killed.

The group hosted a shootout challenge as a fundraiser in October. The next fundraiser is slated for Brewster Street Ice House on Dec. 6, in an event that will include live music and a silent auction, Keech said.

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