FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Navy SEAL Museum to Unveil Naval Special Warfare K9 Memorial
Fort Pierce, Fla. – September 23, 2020 – The Navy SEAL Museum has announced plans to unveil and dedicate a monument honoring Naval Special Warfare K9s. The monument is being constructed adjacent to the Museum’s Memorial Wall honoring its fallen Frogmen from WWII to present day.
“Military Working Dogs have been utilized in combat for decades,” said Rick Kaiser, Navy SEAL Museum Executive Director. “Their indispensable role and importance in SEAL Teams cannot be emphasized enough. We wanted to dedicate a memorial to these teammates all their own to acknowledge their service and sacrifice alongside our Frogmen who have done the same for country.”
The ceremony will be supported by Navy SEALs who have firsthand training with and understanding of Military Working Dogs (MWD). Captain Rick Woolard, USN SEAL (Ret.), who served in Vietnam among some of the first canines to work with Special Operations Forces, will share his knowledge and personal accounts of canines in combat before Master Chief Bill Eikenbary USN SEAL (Ret.) lends his support of the ceremony. Master Chief Eikenbary served as the Military Working Dogs Program’s Senior Enlisted Advisor at Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan as an MWD handler before retiring from active duty in 2008.
The Navy SEAL Museum has been working closely with artist Lena Toritch of Young Fine Art Studio, Inc. on this project. The sculptor created the bronze statue based on the vision the Museum’s Executive Team outlined, supported by descriptions of dogs in training and combat and Military Working Dog images. The bronze canine sculpture will be unveiled and dedicated as part of a larger monument at 10:30 AM Saturday, November 7. The outdoor ceremony is open to the public and free of charge, a component of the Museum’s 35th Annual Muster event.
“I was honored to be a part of the Navy SEAL Museum’s Naval Special Warfare K9 Memorial from concept to complete project,” said Lena Toritch. “My training and extensive work on previous canine pieces provided the knowledge and emotion I felt necessary for this sculpture. I feel the utmost love and admiration for our fearless canine heroes. This statue depicts a split-second moment of a ‘fur missile’ that is locked on its target, focused with the mindset of ‘I am the storm.'”
About Lena Toritch
Lena Toritch graduated from the prestigious St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts in Russia. She mastered human and animal anatomy, the history of art and architecture, composition, drawing, and sculpture. But she yearned for artistic freedom and opportunity so she came to the United States in 1992. Toritch was granted citizenship under the status of “Artist of Exceptional Ability.” Toritch specializes in custom portrait statues, military and police monuments and K9 memorials.
Some of her most prominent K9 portraits and memorials are the SOF K9 Memorial at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum (Fayetteville, North Carolina), the first-ever monument to Special Operations K9s; Police K9 Jethro, who sacrificed his life to protect his handler (Canton, Ohio); ATF K9 Nash (ATF National Academy, Glynco, Georgia); Heroic size police K9 and his handler-Utah Law Enforcement Memorial (Salt Lake City, Utah); Search and Rescue K9 Bretagne, who worked at World Trade Center in NYC after 9/11 (Cypress, Texas); “K9 Soldier” MWD statue for War Dog Memorial in Queensland, Australia; “Monty the Therapy Dog” larger than life statue at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (Buffalo, New York); “MARSOC K9” Memorial (Camp Lejeune, North Carolina); “K9 Dyngo” and “K9 Chrach” (Luke AFB in Glendale, AZ); “Chips”, the most decorated military dog of WWII (Lasdon Park in Katonah, NY).
About The Navy SEAL Museum
The National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum is the only museum dedicated solely to preserving the history of the U.S. Navy SEALs and their predecessors. Located in Fort Pierce, Florida, the Museum resides on the training grounds of the original Navy combat divers, the Frogmen. Built to honor the men who served with fortitude and ingenuity, the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum first opened its doors on Veterans Day in 1985. From humble beginnings, the facility has experienced tremendous growth, achieving national stature in 2007. The main objective of the Museum remains the promotion of public education by providing the opportunity to explore the history of the Navy SEALs through interactive exhibits, while honoring the fallen at the SEAL Memorial and caring for those warriors’ families through Trident House Charities.
The Navy SEAL Museum
For further information, contact:
Phone: (772) 595-5845
Mail to: Elaine@navysealmuseum.org
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