The Special Operations community would like to recognize and remember our canine soldiers killed in action. Our dogs have saved countless lives and have earned a hero's memorial.
Phase I of our operation was to establish a memorial statue in honor of the fallen Special Operations Forces (SOF) K9 heroes that have been killed, while in direct action engaging an enemy combatant. The statue is located at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville, located just outside of Fort Bragg, NC.
Each dog is represented by a paver that is placed at the base of the statue and includes the dog’s name, the country he served and the year/theater he was killed in. The pavers are provided by the SOF K9 Memorial Foundation.
Our statue was completed and dedicated on July 27th, 2013, ten years after the first Multi-Purpose Canine (MPC), Ivan, was killed on the battlefields of Iraq.
Phase II of our operation is to help SOF K9 Handlers remember their canine partners at their home station by assisting with the purchase of memorial plaques, photos, paintings, headstones or anything else the handler would like to memorialize his partner.
Before the Foundation existed, SOF Handlers and teammates would draw from their own pocket to pay for local memorials that would honor their fallen comrade. These memorials can range from $300 to upwards of $1000 depending on the tribute. The Foundation is honored to help SOF Handlers pay tribute to these selfless heroes.
To apply for this honor please see the tab labeled “Request Assistance, Phase II”.
Phase III (pending ASOM approval) will be a permanent display in the museum showcasing past and present SOF handlers and their dogs. It will have actual combat kit that the dogs wear, photos of the dogs "just being dogs" and show the bond between the dog and the handler. This display will not only honor the fallen but appreciate the dogs currently in the fight.
The statue is a life size bronze Belgian Malinois, wearing his deployment kit based on what our dogs actually wear in combat.
The dedication paver in front of our dog reads:
The bond between a SOF handler and his K9 is eternal; trusting each other in a nameless language. Here we honor our SOF K9’s that have paid the ultimate price.
Lena's painstaking effort to provide the utmost detail.
Lena Toritch was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. She received her classical training at the Academy of Fine Arts. Lena studied drawing, sculpture, watercolor painting, history of art and architecture.
It is the details that breathe life into Lena Toritch’s figures, expressing the emotion, spirit, and individuality of her subjects and portraits. Her large monument commissions, like the Utah Law Enforcement Memorial, and John Borbonus portrait memorial, showed she has a gift for portraying triumph, sacrifice, and patriotism as well.
Toritch mastered anatomy, composition, and technique skills as a graduate student (MFA) at the St. Petersburg Academy of Fine Arts in Russia, her home town. But the drive for perfection in her work is rooted in her upbringing amid the art-enriched culture of Russia. Lena’s father, a professional sculptor, challenged the young girl to always improve on her work through studying great masters of the past and learning to see the world with an artist’s eye.
Granted “Artist of Exceptional Ability” status, Toritch has been working in the United States for the past 15 years. Her commissions come from all over the country for private, corporate, and public collections; her bronzes have been displayed in a number of international shows, including Christie’s Auction house in London
Portraits are Toritch’s love. A keen intuitive sense of a character allows her to instill “the being” into the bronze just by using a few photographs and some background stories.
“It is very emotional to work on a memorial portrait. I realize that my skill can symbolically “bring back” someone’s beloved. It is so rewarding to watch them touch the statue’s hand, or stroke its face, as if reconnecting with that person one more time” -Lena Toritch, Sculptor