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Stephen Pless Memorial Sculpture - Newnan, GA, Nov 11, 2009

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  • Stephen Pless Memorial Sculpture - Newnan, GA, Nov 11, 2009

    JOE M. JACKSON AND STEPHEN PLESS MEDAL OF HONOR SCULPTURE UNVEILING. This Veteran's Day, Nov. 11, 2009, life size bronze sculptures honoring Col. Joe M. Jackson, USAF, and Maj. Stephen Pless, USMC will be unveiled and dedicated at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Newnan, GA, about 30 miles SW of Atlanta. Newnan is the hometown of both men, and ironically, both received their MOH's in the same ceremony at the White House. The sculpture depicts Jackson and Pless with two children, representing the youth of Newnan, who are seated before them as the men tell about their Medal of Honor event and explain the price of freedom.

    SPONSORS. The project was developed and funded by the Newnan Veteran's Memorial Committee and the City of Newnan with support from Valor Remembered Foundation of Dallas, TX.

    SCULPTORS. My wife Jenelle and I are the sculptors. We created the sculpture after several years of research into the history of the mission and a nationwide search for mission participants or witnesses.

    As a Marine veteran and former UH1E gunship pilot I am very proud to have conceived and completed this project but I am most pleased and honored to have gotten to know in the process many fine Marines like Col. Joe Nelson, Pless's CO and author of the MOH recommendation, Pless's flight crew including Major Rupert "Skeets" Fairfield, LCPL Gordon Phelps, crewchief, and First Sgt Leroy Poulson, door gunner. We believe that Pless and his crew are the highest decorated flight crew for a single mission in Marine and Naval history. At the last PopASmoke reunion in Reno we assembled all three members of the crew and Larry Allen, the sole survivor of the three men rescued by the Pless crew. Allen introduced his young son to Pless's mother, Nancy Pless and said to his son, "thank Mrs. Pless because without her son you and I would not be alive today."

    Pless earned the MOH for the rescue of three US Army soldiers who had been abandoned by another helicopter and who had just been overrun and captured by the enemy on the beach at My Lai Village.

    Joe Jackson rescued three USAF Combat Air Controllers who were left behind when the Special Forces training base at Kham Duc was evacuated under seige by an NVA division.

    I am a historian as well as a sculptor and am interested in learning about any experiences that you may have had with Pless. If you wish to attend the ceremony or learn more about the project please contact me.

    Unveiling Ceremony, Veterans Memorial Plaza, Jackson and Temple Streets, Newnan, GA 11:00 am to 12:00
    Lunch for all attendees, courtesy of VFW and American Legion, VFW/Am.Legion Post, Newnan, GA 12:15 -

    Marine Veteran Mini Reunion - I am shopping for a hotel where we can all rendezvous after the event. Will announce location with NOTAM and hope all Marines who attend will check in with us. You may call 214-354-1236 to find out where we are going to be if you miss the announcement.
    Last edited by Mark Byrd; 10-23-2009, 17:49. Reason: Adding Information: Event time and agenda, USMC vet rendezvous point
    Mark Austin Byrd - SCULPTOR
    13309 Peyton Drive
    Dallas, TX 75240

  • #2
    Unveiling of Statue

    Weather cleared up enough so ceremony went off without a hitch. Col Joe Jackson USAF MOH was present and some of Maj Stephen Pless's family were also in attendance. There was a good turnout and the crowd was mixed with vets and families. Had the usual political folks but kept speaches to a minimum. Jeneille and Mark Byrd (the Sculptors) were in attendance and should be proud of the fine work they did. Attached are a couple of the pictures of the statue with Col Byrd.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Is anyone going to release these photos for viewing?

      Sometimes I have senior moments, too.

      Semper fi

      Fighting Mad 1 - 4 Actual, Out