Sculptor Greg Marra created a memorial statue of former Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Chris Kyle, which was delivered to Texas in early March to be bronzed and given to Kyle's widow (Ringling College of Art and Design)
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It began as a sculpture to honor all SEALs. In the end, it will resemble just one — the reported deadliest sniper in American military history.
Greg Marra started crafting a 400-pound clay visage of a Navy SEAL intending to offer the finished product to either the Navy SEAL Foundation or the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla. But in early February, he got a call from friend and promoter E.F. “Gene” Sweeney.
“The model needs to be Chris Kyle,” Sweeney told Marra.
Kyle, a former chief special warfare operator, died on a Texas gun range Feb. 2; police said the SEAL and a friend were shot and killed by a former Marine whom Kyle reportedly had been helping deal with post-traumatic stress.
Kyle’s 160 confirmed kills — unconfirmed kills could push that figure past 250 — are the most in U.S. military history. He earned two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with “V” devices, among other decorations, according to Navy personnel records.
Marra worked about a month to tailor his statue to the man behind those numbers.
“Greg put his hands in the clay Feb. 4, and they’ve been there ever since,” said Sweeney, executive director of business affairs at American Patriots in Art and a former Air Force member, in a March 7 interview.
Instead of offering the reworked sculpture to special-operator organizations, Marra decided to donate it to Tara Kyle, the sniper’s widow.
The completed clay statue left a Sarasota, Fla., warehouse March 4 on a trip to Texas. It reached Schaefer Art Bronze Casting in Arlington — less than an hour from Kyle’s hometown of Midlothian — on March 7.
Marra and Sweeney are seeking donations to offset the cost of the casting, a pedestal and other expenditures; they’ve set a goal of $85,000.
A private showing of the clay statue was held March 8 at the casting company, and public viewings the next two days. The statue’s final destination will be up to Tara Kyle, Sweeney said.
Marra holds a master’s degree from the New York Academy of Figurative Arts and studied and taught for years in Europe, according to his website. He maintains a studio in Slovakia as well as Sarasota and Bucks County, Pa.; his website includes several other military-themed monuments in various stages of development, including one featuring Frank Buckles, America’s last surviving American World War I veteran, who died in 2011 at age 110.