11/1/2007 - Arnold Air Force Base , Tenn. -- Marine Private First Class Nathan Bradley Clemons will forever be a part of the Franklin County Courthouse. The dedication ceremony unveiling the bust of Private Nathan Clemons will be held on the Franklin County Courthouse steps at 2 p.m., Nov. 11.
A life-like, life-size professionally sculpted bronze bust of Private Clemons, who died when an Iraqi insurgent stepped in front of his reconnaissance patrol and detonated an explosive device in June 2005 near Ar Rutbah, will soon be unveiled.
David Clemons, Private Nathan Clemons father, works for Aerospace Testing Alliance (ATA) in the Engine Test Facility on base. Operation Never Forget, a national non-profit organization dedicated to honoring those from all branches of the military who have lost their lives fighting the war on terror, is creating the bust for Pfc. Clemons' family.
Organized by G. Alan Howard, the brother of a fallen Marine, Operation Never Forget has completed and dedicated three bronze busts in fallen servicemen and servicewomen's communities to date.
The organization's members believe fallen servicemen and servicewomen's sacrifices should never be forgotten, but memorialized in the communities where they lived, loved, grew up and are buried today.
ATA Material Control Manager Dave Uselton is a member of the advisory board and does volunteer work for the organization by traveling throughout the state to speak in support of Operation Never Forget's mission.
"It's a unique way to bring the faces of our Fallen Heroes back to their hometowns so the community will never forget who they were and why they died," said Mr. Uselton, who serves as the family and civic coordinator for the organization.
Of the three statues dedicated so far, Marine Capt. Brent Morel's bust was placed in the University of Tennessee Martin's library; Marine Private First Class Daniel McClenney's bust is displayed at the courthouse in Shelbyville; and Marine Staff Sgt. John "Ryan" Howard was placed in the Alleghany County Governmental Building in Virginia.
Planning for a bust for Marine Staff Sgt. Marcus Golczynski, a Tullahoma native, and Army Cpl. Brian J. Schoff, a Manchester native, is currently underway. It cost about $5,000 to make a bust, but to ensure families of the fallen heroes do not have to pay, fundraising for the bust starts immediately after the application has been approved.
Events in the community such as motorcycle rides and silent auctions are used to raise the funds. Busts are also sponsored by various groups such as the Marine Corps League, who recently approved a $4,000 donation to Operation Never Forget.
Communities are encouraged to become involved and conduct fundraisers to help memorialize their own fallen Heroes. When the production is started the International Masonic Order 'Delphi' donates $1,000 for each bust.
From start to finish, the process of building a bust takes six to eight weeks to complete. MARBLECast, Inc. of Salt Lake City, Utah, is the exclusive production facility for Operation Never Forget.
"The owners of MARBLECast are as dedicated to Operation Never Forget as other members of this team of volunteers and have pledged to insure hands-on professionalism and communication between the families and the artists," Mr. Uselton said. "They have also committed to produce the busts for Operation Never Forget at cost and feel this is their way to ensure the project succeeds."
As the bust is being sculpted, photos are emailed to the family of the fallen hero for their approval. The fallen hero is sculpted wearing the uniform the family has chosen, along with medals and ribbons awarded.
Attention to detail is carefully studied to ensure exact facial features are achieved to the family's wishes and to capture perfect military uniform requirements.
Once the sculpting is approved by the family, mold making, which is used to make the bronze casting, begins. Hand craftsmanship is used to remove any casting flaws from the bust.
It is then polished, sealed and readied for shipping to the heroes' hometown. The bronze bust is then dedicated through a formal unveiling event in the community where he or she grew up so that for years to come, people can walk by the bust and remember the sacrifice that was given for their freedom.
Dave Uselton feels these busts will help explain to younger generations the ultimate sacrifice and help them learn to appreciate it.
"Seeing the bust and having it explained to them - it's a way to change how young kids today view their freedom," said Mr. Uselton. "Understand that freedom only comes at the great price of the lives of those who fight for it. We owe them an honorable tribute and the continued support that it takes to carry on this noble quest."
For more information about Operation Never Forget visit http://www.operationneverforget.org