Construction of the Air Warrior Combat Memorial begins

Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria '85 joined graduates of the Class of 1971 and USAFA Endowment staff to mark the groundbreaking for the new Air Warrior Combat Memorial. The Class of ’71 has been shepherding the $1.2 million memorial project for nearly 10 years.

“Our thanks to the leadership of the Class of ’71,” Silveria said. “I can’t thank you guys enough.”

robin olds

Adjacent to the B-52 bomber on display near the Academy’s north gate, the Air Warrior Combat Memorial will include a bronze statue of triple ace fighter pilot Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a replica of an F-4 Phantom II fighter-bomber and two walls commemorating the history of air combat beginning in World War I.

“We wanted to honor all those Academy graduates who have participated in the Air Force mission of aerial combat in one way or another,” said Frank Morgan, president of the Class of 1971 and chair of the class gift committee. “Not just the folks that are flying airplanes, but the people who maintain the airplanes, the folks who are responsible for logistics, as well as all the people in weather, on the ground, in communications — the whole package — because we know that it’s a team effort, and that’s what made our Air Force successful over the years.”

In addition to being a celebrated triple ace with 17 kills, Olds was also the commandant of cadets at the Air Force Academy from 1967 to 1971.

silveria + morgan

“We elected General Olds as kind of the epitome of what we thought the air combat warrior ethos was,” Morgan said. “We thought that the spirit and the leadership that he provided during the Vietnam era, as well as his time here at the Academy, was very representative of the people that support the overall air combat mission of the Air Force."

The bronze statue of Olds is being sculpted by Class of ’71 graduate Jim Nance. Nance also created sculptures, bas-relief panels and a map for the Academy’s Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion, Lance Sijan Medal of Honor memorial, and Southeast Asia Vietnam Prisoner of War memorial.

“It is a great honor and a wonderful opportunity to be able to do the Robin Olds sculpture,” Nance said. “He was one of my life’s greatest heroes. All of the cadets revered him and worshiped his wartime record, shooting down 17 enemy aircraft. Robin Olds is an example of someone who lived by the warrior ethos.”

  See more photos on Flickr

The construction phase of the memorial is expected to be completed in 2021, with an official dedication to coincide with the 50th reunion of the Class of '71.

"It’s a great project, and I really believe that in the grand scheme of things it’s going to be the must-see memorial at the Academy,” Morgan said. “With the future plans for the area to make it kind of an aviation park, it will definitely be the centerpiece of the area and be a worthy stop for tourists, former cadets and grads. So, we’re looking forward to getting it finished. It’s going to be cool.”


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