CALDWELL, Idaho — In 2005, the first Idaho woman was killed in combat, Carrie French. Last year, KTVB was there at Idaho Veterans Garden, where French's loved ones and the sculptor behind the monument to honor French, came together to create an artist rendering of what that statue will look like.
Now, the monument has been started, but they need help to finish it, which is why they started a fundraising campaign. They are hoping to raise $75,000.00 in 75 days and they have two donors who will match those donations given by the end of the month.
“The Borbonus Foundation, John Borbonus was an enlisted member that we lost and so his family has kicked in with their foundation and funded part of this, and then Fred Cornforth, who's a local that has done a lot of work in the area donated as well. and they've donated a substantial amount and what they're doing is matching funds,” Benjamin Victor, the sculptor behind the Carrie French memorial said.
Loved ones say, the 19-year-old from Caldwell was a friend to everyone, and once the statue is complete, that friendship will stand tall at the Idaho Veterans Garden.
“The statue represents camaraderie. And that's what it's about, two friends sharing sack lunch sitting on sandbags in the desert. It's something that actually happened,” Danny Pugmire, project manager and chairman of the board for the Idaho Veterans Garden said.
Victor is working to make sure this monument is something French's family can be proud of.
“Everybody really loved her,” Victor said. “She just brought up this brightness and so that's what I’m really trying to capture in the monument.”
He’s also hoping to capture something those who have served can embrace.
“That brotherhood and sisterhood that we see between the enlisted members is something that echoes across time,” Victor said.
As a veteran himself, Pugmire remembers learning about French's death, and how it put things into perspective for him.
“I was struggling hard, when they brought her back and I told myself ‘What are you doing to honor her standing at attention isn’t going to do it,” Pugmire said. “She lost her life for you, for you to have your freedoms and for me to have my freedoms.”
He adds, there's an urgency to see this tribute to Carrie finished.
“Since my diagnosis of cancer, a couple of years ago, I’ve been in a funk and I say it's hard to get up every day and your day you don't feel good, but I’m pressing on and keep going on because I have to see it through,” Pugmire said. “I’m not asking everybody to feel sympathy for me, I’m asking them to just help me, help me honor her…we don't want to forget her name and forget who she is.”
To find out more information on how you can get involved, click here.
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