On July 23, 2017 I was asked to do designs of saluting US Air Force sculptures, both male and female. The planning committee at American Veterans Park wanted to get a sense of all of the statues that will be installed over the next 2-3 years.
My initial designs had the sculptures as active duty pilots, holding their pilot helmet in left hand and saluting with their right. They were wearing their flight suits and had a similar look and feel to a sculpture I had sculpted a few years prior, WWII Tuskegee Airman, Joe Gomer.
In the end, the sculpture that was decided on was a middle aged sergeant saluting. The sculpture which I am now finishing up was inspired by the late Bernie Hunke, a West Point, NE US Air Force veteran. Bernie was on the planning committee at AVP and had modeled for the future sculpture sometime in 2018 with in-the-round photos (something that I create for all of my statues). Although the sculpture isn’t a likeness of Bernie, it does have elements of his posture, body proportions and uniform based off of the photos that were taken of him in the pose. An unfortunate accident had taken Bernie’s life so this sculpture will have so much special meaning to his family and to the West Point community.