At 94, Maj. Fredric Arnold (ret.), Sole Surviving Member of his WWII P-38 Class of 42-J Group, Finished Sculpting A Monumental Bronze Sculpture in Memory of the more than 88,000 WWII US Airman Killed in Action

The completed sculpture can now be seen at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver, Colorado
 The following video accompanies the finished monument and describes its history and significance.  Please take a few minutes to view this video.

 The World Premier Public Unveiling was held August 6, 2016 at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver.
You are invited…
to join the more than 200,000 people per year who will now see the finished sculpture in person.
 (CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE MUSEUM WEBSITE)
3GenEndorsement03
DoleEndorsement03

Artist Statement

Ever since my early childhood, I’ve been an artist.  Fine art. Commercial art. You name it.  This project, however, is special.  It is my magnum opus… The most challenging from an artistic point of view, but more importantly, the most meaningful to me.  I put my heart and soul into this work.
The narrative below describes the overall origins of this sculpture.  Bear in mind, however, it is comprised of twelve individual figures.  Each figure has its own story and its own meaning.  I hope you’ll also take the time to read each of the twelve stories posted under the “Gallery” menu heading.
Here is the background behind this work of art:  Of fourteen original members of my original group of Class 42-J P-38 fighter pilots, only two survived six months of combat: Jim Hagenback and me. Much of our survival was due to luck. Years later, we vowed to each other that whoever was left standing would do something to honor the twelve. Lest We Forget: The Mission stemmed from our deep gratitude to the twelve original members of our Group that didn’t survive to live their lives in peace.
At 94, I am the last man standing of my original group.  Completing the sculpture in August, 2016 fulfilled my oath to honor my comrades. To my knowledge, I am the only commercial artist to live through combat as a US WWII fighter pilot in the North African theater of operation. Turning to my art, the idea of the sculpture grew out of an intense memory of the quiet bravery of my comrades attending a mission briefing as we recommitted to executing the day’s mission, even while flanked by the memory of our fellow pilots killed in recent combat.
Although the sculpture began as a testament to the twelve pilots in my squadron, the scope of the work has grown. Now the twelve individuals figures are dedicated to the memory of the more than 88,000 U.S. aviators who gave their lives during WWII.  I am honored that three former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Senator have endorsed the deep meaning of my sculpture.
Arrangements have been made to loan Lest We Forget: The Mission to the National WWII Museum in New Orleans for exhibition on their 6-acre campus.
The photo shown below is the original tabletop version of the work.  The sculpture depicts twelve fighter pilots during a mission briefing.  The lighter colored spirits of aviators already killed in action look over the shoulders of those still alive.  All are destined to die.  Please view the Gallery pages on this website to see images of the life size figures completed in clay.
Over the last four years, the figures were cast in bronze and are now on display in Denver.  My family and I paid to complete this project.  We are hopeful the public will see the value in my work and help us offset the project costs through tax-deductible donations.  If you have an interest in helping with this project, please visit our Donate Page.
I invite you to watch the videos on this site to hear about the history and significance of my project.
Thank you for your interest and support,
Major Fredric Arnold (ret.), Artist
All photos on this site by Jafe Parsons, unless otherwise stated

 

31 thoughts on “Lest We Forget

  1. Carol Templeton Reply

    So amazing and touching. A true artist a true patriot and great American. Deeply thank you for you service and artistic memorial. Please have Hollywood make a big screen movie of your story. Harrison Ford or Tom Hanks come to mind. I don’t have enough words to tell you how touched my family was. OUR GREATEST GLORY IS NOT IN NEVER FALLING BUT RISING WHEN WE DO. You no doubt are a man that rises . Beautiful man beautiful family and beautiful art work. Thank you

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Thank you for your kind comment. Dad’s book, “Doorknob Five Two”, has been optioned by different movie production companies over the years, which is proof that it has appeal to Hollywood. One of these times, all the factors (financing, lead actors, aircraft special effects, etc.) will all come together and a film will get made.

      Be well,

      Marc Arnold

  2. Mike Fuhrman Reply

    I had the great opportunity to see this exhibit in November, 2016 at the museum. It touched me deeply. I am retired Army, and a history buff, but I may have overlooked the sacrifice of the US Army Air Corps in WWII. These sculptures, and the accompanying stories of the men they portray brought that harsh reality to the forefront. It brought tears to my eyes to think of so many young men lost in war, many whose identities and memories are already forgotten. We should never forget the sacrifice and service of our nation’s heroes. What an outstanding exhibit. I highly recommend you see it, and, if you can’t, watch the video!

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Thank you for your service, Mr. Fuhrman. We can never fully know or appreciate the debt we owe to the countless soldiers of every branch of service that paid for our freedoms. It is heartening to see Dad’s sculpture affect people of all ages and backgrounds.

      Be well,

      Marc Arnold

  3. Sam Duncan Reply

    I thought you might enjoy teading about another “arty farty” warrior from a previous war. We are all Americans. I enjoyed your reading aboub your service, thank you, and will visit the museum in Denver thevnext time we travel
    West. All the best to youband your family. Sam Duncan, USAF 1961-68, Vero Beach, FL.

    Field of Shoes: Moses Jacob Ezekiel

    Moses Jacob Ezekiel, a world renowned “arty farty” sculptor, Jewish Johnny Reb, 1st Jewish Virginia Military Institute cadet, as a teenager, along with the other teenage VMI cadets, fought gallantly at the Civil War New Market battle (the battle site has been preserved and today as an American, it is possible to walk the field of lost shoes) depicted in the movie Field of Lost Shoes. This is another example of a teenager with a diverse heritage serving his country as a warrior, today know as a citizen-soldier, just like later in WWII when 14 million citizen-soldiers stepped up, served, not whiners, just like Moses did in his situation, the Confederate States of America. After the war, Moses Jacob Ezekiel went on with his life, contributed to the arts, as an American. The US and its residents/citizens has always been a diverse shining light on the hill. FACTUAL

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_Jacob_Ezekiel

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Thank you for your comment and the link to Moses Jacob Ezekiel. Yes, the concept of “citizen-warrior” is central to Dad’s message. They were called upon to do a job, then they returned to their life as it was before the war. All the best, Marc Arnold

  4. Patti Lashbrook Reply

    Thank you. Lt. Bob Fisher from Burnettsville IN, was the first cousin of my father. He spoke of him a view times, always with a great deal of pride mixed with sadness. I hope to be able to see this beautiful memorial someday soon.

    Thank you!
    Patti (Fisher) Lashbrook

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Patti —

      Finding relatives of Dad’s original group of 14, including your father’s cousin, Lt. Bob Fisher, has been a rich reward for doing his monument. Bob Fisher’s son and two grand-daughters attended the dedication of another memorial project done by my father… a 20×16 foot mural. Their attendance was included in the documentary, “Between Two Worlds”, by Aaron Weisblatt. I was also there and it was a deeply touching tribute. The grandson of Jim Hagenback, the other survivor, is coming to Denver in October to visit with us and to see the sculpture. You are welcome anytime.

      — Marc Arnold

  5. Bill Reply

    Made a special trip to see sculpture on day off and worth the time to see it and contemplate the meaning of each of the figures and the positions of the figures. I have visited the WWII museum in New Orleans and it will be a wonderful addition. I have found the stories behind the people who have served in our military to be very humbling to me in what they had witnessed and experienced in their lives. I served in the Air Force in the late 80’s and early 90’s and have my own “military stories”, but I did not experience combat or the life threatening experiences of many of our past and current soldiers and airman. I have the utmost respect for them and thank them. Thank you Maj. Arnold for your service and this tribute to your fellow pilots.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Bill — Thank you for your service. Dad and I just came back from an “Honor Flight” to Washington DC. It was an emotional tour of the national monuments dedicated to the many soldiers who stood up and defended our freedoms. Thank you for your kind words. Be well, Marc Arnold

  6. Mickey Reply

    This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you seems to little for the great gift you have given every citizen . I have been blessed by the freedom that all those who serve have fought so hard to protect. All of you are in my prayers every day.

  7. Stevie Crisostomo Reply

    Arnold visited monuments and museums but could not come up with an idea. Eventually, his daughter-in-law suggested that Arnold use the 10 maps he had been given by his crew chief as background for painted memorials. Arnold liked the idea and, using the maps, created 10 panels on which he painted murals. While Arnold’s memories of the 12 fellow pilots in his class provided the inspiration, the sculptures intend to represent the 88,000 airmen who were killed in combat in World War II. The piece differentiates between living pilots and those who had been killed in action by the color of the metals, with the dead men in a more pallid hue.

  8. Allison Reply

    We unknowingly came across your sculpture at the museum yesterday. We brought our 14 year old WWII history buff nephew with us. He was quite enamored with your beautiful, thought provoking work. Our group all felt your work was a wonderful tribute to those who sacrificed everything for this country.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Thank you, Allison, for taking the time to leave a comment. Reaching young people like your nephew was one of Dad’s fondest hope… to reach across the generations, as it were, and make a connection. Be well, Marc

  9. Peggy Whitcomb Tuzicka Reply

    As the daughter of a man who served two tours of duty during WWII, and survived, I am so touched by this beautiful tribute to those airmen who did not make it home. If my father, Walter Adren Whitcomb, had not survived the war, I would not exist. It is ironic that he survived his service in Germany, Japan and the Philippines, and then lost his life in a tractor accident, while preparing for a new home for our family. I was a little more than 3 years old, and my brothers were approximately 6 and 8 years old at the time of our father’s death. My mother, Bessie Lockhart Whitcomb, who was only 28 years old when my father died, worked very hard to provide for us and raised my brothers and myself in a way that would show respect to all who served our country, regardless of when or how they served. Both of my brothers served during the Viet Nam war, and my uncle, Ray Lockhart, who passed away several years ago, began his service during WWII and was a career Air Force pilot. This beautiful sculpture is an amazing tribute to those who served in The Great War, as well as to all who have served our country in any capacity. I am so moved by the dedication it took to complete this project and it is my hope to see it in person some day. Thank you so much for your devotion, Major Arnold and Marc Arnold. You have created a lasting treasure for our nation.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Peggy — Thank you for sharing your connection to the work.

      Dad was especially honored by the presence of the nephew of one of the original 12 pilots in Dad’s Group killed in the war. Like you, he had a strong bond to his uncle and other members of his family who served in the war. They hugged and cried over their shared loss after so many decades; Dad because he knew his uncle, the nephew because he never knew his uncle. Loss, mourning, respect and gratitude can all leap across generations, time and distance.

  10. David Maib Reply

    On July 26th, while visiting old friends in Ft. Collins, CO, I received an email from an old buddy that I flew with in Vietnam, with a link to the “Lest We Forget: The Vow” video that is on the home page of this site. I watched it early in the morning. Later that day, my friend and I were going to drive down to Denver to visit the Wings Over The Rockies museum. During the drive, I told my friend about the video. He is a pilot and his father was a Navy pilot in WWII. Well, we toured the museum for a couple of hours and were on our way out when I was surprised to see the sculpture being set up, and then realized I was looking at Marc and Maj. Arnold as they worked on the project! I was astounded. I had just seen the video that morning and now I am talking to Maj. Arnold! It was a special moment for me and I want to thank you for taking the time to chat with us and allowing us to take photographs. My wife and I are donating to the project and look forward to seeing it in New Orleans. Thank you for your dedication, and your art, to help insure that those who paid the ultimate price will not be forgotten.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Thank you, David. It was a pleasure to meet you. You were present at a special time as the finished monument was coming together.

      Now that the finished monument is on display, the video on the home page of this website has been changed to reflect the 13 minute video that is part of the exhibit.

      All good wishes. Be well.

  11. Joel Godston Reply

    What a GREAT project for you to do. I was in the Air Force 57H class where I flew the F-80 (T-bird) in basic training; graduated and flew B-47’s in 1957 with Lloyd Gray who became a pilot flying B-17s at the age of 17 during WWII in 1944. I later flew the F-86H in the Mass ANG….. and later owned a Cessna 182 that, with my wife, flew many places including AirVenture for over 10 yeqrs. I also worked for Pratt & Whitney for about 40 years doing all kinds of ‘Research stuff’ for future aircraft engines. It would be wonderful to ‘chat’ with you about your project, and aviation. PLEASE do contact me by telephone if you’d like (206) 382-xxxx

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Mr. Godston —

      Thank you for your comment.

      Under the heading of “small world”… You flew the F-80 and my father did the initial flight acceptance test flight of the XP-80 on behalf of the Army Air Corp. His logbook shows his first flight of the XP-80 happened on Jan 19, 1945. It was a one hour flight and includes the note: “Checked out by Milo [Birchum… Lockheed’s chief test pilot at the time]. Prediction: Props [will be] rare 10 years from now … Bugs yet to be removed, but when they are!!!!! Greatest thing in aviation.”

      He went on to write and illustrate the first flight manual for the P-80. So it is possible you studied from his manual (or later revisions).

      It is kind of you to invite Dad to contact you by phone. He has many of his faculties, but phone calls have become difficult recently, so that is not likely to happen. He did, however, ask me to pass along his best wishes to you… I’ll add my own!

      Thank you for your service, sir.

      Marc Arnold

  12. John Libert Reply

    I visited the Wings Over The Rockies Museum today and watched the video and was able to see at least something of the sculpture as it was still largely covered. It is beautiful and the stories behind each figure are so very impressive. I am so sorry I will not be able to see it unveiled in person but am gratefull for what I could see. I am thankfull for all those that fought for my freedom (I am Dutch) and the “Lest we forget : the mission” is a truly wonderful testament to all that fought and paid the ultimate price. Thank you Maj. Arnold

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Mr. Libert —

      We worked on the installation for a week before the first public unveiling yesterday. You were among the lucky few that got a sneak peek. Now that it is fully exposed, I hope you have the opportunity to revisit the museum. As an occupied country during WWII, the Netherlands suffered dearly at the hands of the Nazis. The loss of life there was truly horrific.

      Thank you for your kind words of support.

      Marc Arnold

  13. Bob Bauer Reply

    I have had the pleasure of working with the Arnold family in designing and setting the lighting for the Lest We Forget memorial. I quickly recognized the importance and magnitude of this great work of art. Maj. Arnold not only created a masterpiece, but has brought new awareness to an often forgotten war and the people who lost their lives defending our Country. I hope that our younger generations will gain insight and appreciation of the enormous sacrifices made by a generation of Americans, now almost all gone. This sculpture is a great way to stir the interest and encourage all of us to go back and absorb this time in our history and really understand what WWII was all about.
    Congratulations Maj Arnold for creating a permanent dedication and remembrance for now and every generation to come.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Bob —

      Thanks for your help with the project. Bronze is a difficult medium to light and your expertise made a big difference. We have a photo shoot scheduled in the morning to capture images of the finished bronze figures. When time permits, we will post these updated images so people visiting the site can appreciate the lighting work you did.

      All the very best to you,

      Marc

  14. John Miller Reply

    Truly awesome story. I just finished a book on my dad’s service in WWII and was touched by the lives that he touched (and was touched by) as a pilot. I so envy Maj. Arnold’s son for taking the time to help his dad create this lasting legacy. As a retired Air Force fighter pilot myself who lost far too many comrades both in battle and in peacetime, this memorial is a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives in defense of our Republic. There is a special place in Heaven for such noble souls.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      Mr. Miller —

      Like you, I have been fortunate indeed to be able to support my father in a project that allowed me to appreciate the sacrifices of his comrades.

      Your comment about the loss of life in peacetime reminds me of my father’s common refrain, “I don’t care if a soldier dies in war, in peace, in combat or in training… it doesn’t matter a bit. In fact, it doesn’t even matter if they were injured. Fact is, they put on the uniform and that very act means they put their life on the line for the country.”

      My thanks to you and your father for your service.

      — Marc Arnold

  15. David & Ingrid Waggoner Reply

    Our son and 5 of our young grandkids had the honor of meeting Maj Arnold July 27, 2016, the day y’all were setting up the sculpture exhibit at Wings. We talked for 12 – 15 minutes and captured a few photos of the war hero which we will treasure. I felt so humble conversing with this great unassuming man of my parent’s generation, the Greatest Generation. Thank you Major Arnold and your son, for bringing this profound, humbling, magnificent sculpture to Wings Over the Rockies . . . to our American countrymen. We will one day get to the World War II Museum in New Orleans to view this wonderful tribute to your buddies of 42-J and the 88,000 heroes otherwise lost to the ages.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      I remember your visit and am grateful to you for your kind and thoughtful comments. Be well — Marc Arnold

  16. John Takeuchi Reply

    I’m a retired Air Force pilot, too. I can’t imagine a finer tribute to your comrades — everyone who ever fought for our Country — than this. It’s not a marble obelisk or plaque; it’s people. God bless you.

    • ma8243 Post authorReply

      What a kind and generous comment, Sir. Thank you. Dad was very touched and said, “Here’s a fellow that really gets it”. All the best to you — Marc Arnold

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *