A University of Alabama law student and Marine Corps second lieutenant is on a mission to memorialize a fallen American war hero.
Lt. Steven Arango was attending Bates College in Maine, when he read a New York Times article that inspired him.
The article profiled Captain George Whitney, 38, a Bates College alumnus and a C.I.A paramilitary officer who was killed in December in Afghanistan.
“After I read about him, I knew right away that Bates needed to honor him,” Arango said to ConnectingVets.com.
Whitney excelled both academically and athletically at Bates College; he graduated cum laude after playing football as the starting fullback. After college, Whitney joined the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, serving in Anbar, Iraq. He then joined the C.I.A, but was killed in action during an operation in Afghanistan.
Whitney, along with two others, was awarded stars from the C.I.A for dying in the line of duty.
“He epitomized selfless service and gave his life in protection of our country,” Arango said. “Simply put, he’s a hero.”
Inspired by Whitney’s heroism, Arango petitioned Bates College to honor his legacy.
Arango decided that a sculpted bust would be the perfect tribute to Whitney, and contracted the help of retired USMC Colonel and Alabama artist Lee Busby.
Also a University of Alabama graduate, Busby sculpts Alabamians who have been killed in Iraq of Afghanistan.
"I'm no Michelangelo, but I know the world that these people operate in, and I know what they went through,” Busby told Southern Living. “And, I do have some ability to sculpt. So, that's what I want to do."
Now, Busby is nearly halfway done with the bust of Whitney and is ready to sculpt the finishing touches.
“We are flying Caryn Whitney into Tuscaloosa to put the final touches on the bust,” Arango said. “We want to make sure the likeness is exactly of her son.”
Busby expects to complete the sculpture by December, which then will be used for pouring — the process used to make a bronze bust.
Arango is funding this project completely alone, and hopes that Bates College can provide space for the memorial.
“I just want Captain Whitney to be honored,” Arango said. “For the next 100, 200 years with Bates students walking next to him and seeing him? I promise you Bates will turn out even better students than they are now.”