The South Texas Aviator Memorial Association honors Corpus Christi’s rich heritage with the Aviator Memorial.
By: Anne Booher
Half of all Navy and Marine Corps aviators train in Corpus Christi. That means half of all aviators currently fighting ISIS, flying missions in dangerous areas and heading out on deployment have spent a significant amount of time in this Sparkling City by the Sea.
Whether they’re here for six months, three years or longer, they attend school here, worship here, find love here and have babies here, and some return to Corpus Christi to call it home. They leave their mark on this city, and Corpus Christi leaves its mark on them. This also means half of all Navy and Marine Corps aviators who give their lives in service to their country have Corpus Christi roots.
Founded in 2015 by a small cadre of Navy pilots, the South Texas Aviator Memorial Association (STXAMA) plans to build a bronze statue and memorial gardens in Ropes Park on Ocean Drive to honor the sacrifice of fallen aviators and aircrew and give a visual representation of Corpus Christi’s contribution to military aviation. Familiar locations in Corpus – including Rodd Field, Brownlee Drive, Cabiniss Field and Waldron Road – are all namesakes of American military heroes, some of whom were aviators aboard the Naval Air Station. Corpus Christi holds a rich heritage of supporting military service members, and it does not go unnoticed.
The memorial itself will include a 7-foot statue of an aviator in flight gear, standing at the ready. He will be placed on top of a large pedestal featuring the seals of each military branch. While the statue is not based on any one person, it is meant to represent pilots, flight officers and aircrew from each branch of service. The statue will be surrounded by a brick walkway, filled with the names of loved ones and local supporters.
Six benches will surround the aviator, providing a place to enjoy an unobstructed view of the Bay. Ropes Park also holds special significance to those pilots currently flying and training aboard Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, since the statue will be visible on their final approach course to runway 13R.
Buy a brick, donate or volunteer
Through hard work of dedicated volunteers, the association has successfully raised $87,000 toward its $105,000 goal toward construction. There are many opportunities to get involved and leave your mark on what is to be a Corpus Christi landmark.
Bricks are being sold to line the walkway leading to the memorial, and they are laser engraved, making it easy to include any logo or artwork. Whether you’d like to honor a lost loved one, honor a former squadron or unit or feature your company logo, these bricks will be cherished parts of the memorial.
Donations are appreciated in any amount, and a few sponsorships are still available. Sponsorships include having your business, family name or tribute placed on a plaque that will be featured on the side of one of six benches surrounding the statue. Some include a small-scale replica statue of the aviator.
Volunteers are what make STXAMA successful. If you’d like to donate your time or skills toward the completion of this project, please contact one of the associate directors for more information.
Keep the legacy going
Corpus Christi cares deeply for its military, and while this park will be a landmark, it will be much more than an attraction. When the last brick has been laid and Ropes Park becomes the aviator’s permanent home, that doesn’t mean the work is done. STXAMA plans to continue its fundraising efforts to establish an ongoing educational scholarship fund for children of fallen aviators. With all the worry and concern that follows when a child loses a parent, the STXAMA wants to alleviate the financial burden that comes with paying for college.
Please make a donation today, and be a part of bringing our aviator home to Ropes Park.
Photos courtesy of South Texas Aviator Memorial Association