A bronze statue of a Vietnam veteran and his tracker dog was placed at Veterans Memorial Park in Tooele City on Thursday morning.
Marvin Hitesman, a local artist, along with a company called The Foundry created the $54,000 statue.
The 8-foot-tall, nearly 5-foot-wide statue features a Vietnam veteran and his Labrador dog and can now be viewed at the park.
Hitesman said that he spoke to officials at Tooele City after he had an idea to create the sculpture.
Tooele City officials decided to go through with the statue after speaking with Hitesman.
“I was researching all of the equipment that the guys in Vietnam wore and as I was doing that, I came across a Labrador,” he said. “Most of the time you see shepherds. So, I was like, what is the story here? Then, I saw it was a tracker team.”
During the Vietnam War, certain soldiers volunteered to go over to Malaysia and become highly trained, along with their dogs — which were usually Labradors — by the British and the Malaysian military. When they were finished training, they would go back to Vietnam and begin their service.
Their job was to reestablish contact with the enemy, keep watch for possible enemy activities, and locate lost or missing friendly personnel. The methods that they used were visual and canine tactical tracking. Because the British weren’t supposed to be involved in the war, the combat records of the soldiers were never recorded.
The 400-pound statue is located on the southeast corner of the park by the flags and is on ground level so that members of the community can view it easier.
According to Tooele City officials, the arts council is still accepting donations for the statue. They also have challenge coins available for $20.
Donations can be made by calling 435-843-2141 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Tooele City administration, city council, and the arts council would like to thank and recognize military veterans who have and continue to protect the country and citizens.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic members of the community were not invited to attend the unveiling in the park.
A public ceremony for the statue will be held at a later date.
“I am honored to be given the chance to sculpt one member of a five man Vietnam Combat Tracker Team,” said Hitesman. “As I understand, tomorrow will just be the placement of the sculpture and on a later date when circumstances permit, there will be a presentation of the sculpture to the public.”
During a ceremony on Veteran’s Day in 2018, a 13-foot-tall, 800 pound statue of World War II veteran and purple heart recipient Robert Calder of Garden City, Utah called “Proud,” was unveiled in Tooele City’s Veterans Memorial Park.
The statue was presented by Jon Gossett, president of the Life’s Worth Living Foundation, and its creator, sculptor Dan Snarr of Stansbury Park. Calder did not die by suicide, but the statue’s visual power and presence relay a message about the depression and suicide that afflicts many veterans.