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Bronze eagle takes flight at Veterans Memorial

Memorial will be formally dedicated Aug. 23


by: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - With a 6-foot wingspan, a bronze eagle now flies over Estacada Veterans MemorialThe Estacada Veterans Memorial at 267 S.W. Second Avenue was just a dream of Dennis Dahrens' a few years ago, but now the memorial, with its gleaming flagpoles and courtyard with inscribed bricks honoring Estacada veterans has received a crowning touch.

A bronze eagle with a six-foot wingspan was installed over the weekend and soars from a raised platform that will eventually have a black marble base.

Construction on the memorial began in 2008 by the Estacada Area Support Our Troops Foundation (EASOTF), which Dahrens founded after attending a patriotic rally a few years before. The official dedication of the completed memorial will be held Aug. 23.

The memorial was designed by EASOTF member John Nieder, who spent years as an engineer designing buildings for the Air Force. In a small park-like setting, the memorial was designed in a figure eight — the infinity symbol intended to indicate “forever.”

by: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Shane Stofner, top left, and Roy Swan Jr. help position the new bronze eagle at Estacada Veterans Memorial with the help of Mario Pinto, bottom left, and Roy Swan Sr.The eagle was cast in bronze by Bend Bronze Fine Art Casting in Estacada, but it was not the first choice. Bend Bronze's owner, Roy Swan, also a sculptor, had created a large statue of a boy with his father or grandfather, but the cost was too high for EASOTF, a small nonprofit with few assets beyond many hours of volunteer labor by its nine members.

We had been trying to get a statue for ages, but they are cost prohibitive on our budget,” Nieder said. “We've been dealing with Roy for some time and he designed a statue for us that we can't afford, and then made an offer to us for an eagle statue we also could not afford.”

But another veterans group came to the rescue. Nieder said he casually mentioned the eagle statue to friends at the American Legion about a month ago, but thought the matter was dropped. The opposite happened.

“They ran like hell with it and contacted Roy,” he said. “They made an arrangement that they would purchase the statue and have it installed on our memorial site, and if sometime later, if we come up with $60,000 or $70,000 and buy the original, then the eagle would be replaced and the American Legion would move it somewhere else.”

The eagle was sculpted by Mike Curtis of Idaho, Swan said. Members of EASOTF didn't waste time getting it ready to go on display. Swan and several of his workers came out on Friday, May 23, to measure where the bolts will go to hold the statue in place.

by: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Roy Swan of Bend Bronze Fine Art Casting with the new eagle his company cast for Estacada Veterans Memorial“They brought the 450-pound statue with them, which was lifted on a dolly up most of the height of the 5-foot concrete base, then hoisted with brute strength by hand and set in place.

After taking measurements, Swan and his helpers took the statue back down, but for a few moments as it stayed on the pedestal, and a handful of people walked around and admired the work. Among them were Jim Beltarmo of the American Legion and EASOTF members Terry Brown, Jim Grimes and Becky Ginsbach along with Dahrens and Nieder.

Installing the statue is the end of a long process, Swan said. Sculpting alone can take more than a year.

“There's lots of work with the internal processes,” he said. “We use the lost wax process and to cast takes about three months.”

The eagle came from the sculptor as a clay model, from which foundry workers make a mold, which they pour wax into.

“Then they take it to the slurry room and get an investment, or shell, and then de-waxing,” he said.

Next, the bronze is melted and poured into the casting shell and allowed to cool. The shell is then broken and the sculpture is sand-blasted, prepped and welded.

“Then we use a finishing tool and then patina color to complete the process,” Swan said. “All the colors are oxidized, not painted on.”

The eagle is a central point of focus at the memorial with its flagpoles, flower garden, walkways and “Walls of Honor” made of bricks inscribed with the names of local veterans and their branch of service.

To offset the costs of installing and engraving, the veterans group charges families $60 for each brick, which are installed each Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Bricks at the foot of the statue base are $100. Bricks can be ordered from the EASOTF website.

The memorial is a beautiful place, but it's not done yet. The group is trying to raise money for more improvements, Nieder said.

“We still need a bench and a trash can and we want to plant grass in the circle in the center and around the edges,” he said. “The organization is broke and in serious need of donations.”

To contribute to the memorial, send a check to Estacada Veterans Memorial, P.O. Box 792, Estacada OR 97023.

Seeing in public the name of a loved one who served is what moved Dahrens to start work on the Estacada Veterans Memorial in the first place, he said, after he went to a veterans rally in 2003.

“My son is in the Marines and I saw his name on a sign at the rally," he said. “I've lived here all my life, and I thought a memorial would be a nice thing.”

It's even more than that, according a statement on the EASOTF website.

by: ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: BEVERLY CORBELL - Working to install a new bronze eagle at the Estacada Veterans Memorial are, from left, Roy Swan Jr., Roy Swan, Shane Stofner, Jim Beltarmo, Jim Grimes, Mario Pinto, Terry Brown, Dennis Dahrens and John Nieder.“All honor surrounding the Estacada Veteran's Memorial belongs solely to those men and women whose names are inscribed upon it,” it reads. “May we and future generations come to the memorial and learn their names. We should teach our children and grandchildren to never forget what our veterans have done for us.”



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