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ROCKFORD, IOWA — A small northern Iowa town unveiled a statue honoring a Navy SEAL killed in 2011 in Afghanistan and his loyal dog remembered for lying beside the sailor’s casket.
The bronze statue of Jon Tumilson and his dog, Hawkeye, was unveiled Friday night at a dedication ceremony. It now stands in Rockford’s Fossil and Prairie Park, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported Saturday.
Tumilson, a native of Rockford, was one of 30 American troops killed Aug. 6, 2011, when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents.
His dog led family members into Tumilson’s funeral service, and lay by his casket during the ceremony. Photos and video of the funeral went viral, a touching moment after one of the deadliest attacks during the decade-long war.
The statue was created by Jeff Adams, of Mount Morris, Ill. It depicts Tumilson and Hawkeye running.
At the Friday dedication, Navy Lt. Robert Bradshaw said Tumilson was “a gift to us.”
“He was fully secure in who he was,” said Bradshaw, who was chaplain for Tumilson’s SEAL team. “JT was a man of faith, a warrior.”
All of the speakers, including Iowa State Rep. Josh Byrnes, encouraged the more than 200 people attending to never forget those who serve in the U.S. military.
“Every day is Memorial Day, and every day is Veterans Day,” Byrnes said. “It shouldn’t be just one day we honor these people.”
Events Saturday included Freedom Fest with family activities at the park, a music concert and fireworks.
All proceeds from the event will benefit 3 Minutes Out, the foundation the family set up after Tumilson’s death.