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Memorial honoring Idaho's female veterans in Caldwell in the works

The memorial will pay tribute to Carrie French, the first Idaho woman killed in combat in 2005 in Iraq.

BOISE, Idaho — On Tuesday, artist Benjamin Victor, along with Idaho Veterans Garden project manager, Daniel Pugmire, and family and friends of Carrie French gathered for a photoshoot to create an artist rendering of what the statue for the Idaho Women Veterans Memorial will look like.

French was the first Idaho woman killed in combat when she died in a roadside bomb attack in Iraq in 2005. She was just 19 years old. The memorial will pay tribute to French and all of Idaho’s female veterans.

“This is long overdue," French's friend, Marisa McCarter said. "We're honoring one of our own, this is about Carrie and the friendships she created."

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McCarter also served with French in 2005.

“It feels larger than me," McCarter said. "It's been a long time that we've been waiting or hoping that something would happen and the stars kind of aligned."

Credit: KTVB

As a veteran himself, Pugmire remembers the moment French was brought home.

“I got out of my car and stood at attention on the freeway and it was a moment of reckoning for me, because the first thing I thought about was her, how was I honoring her with the condition I was in, in my life,” Pugmire said.

French would have been 36 years old this week. It is something her mom -- Paula Hylinski, thinks about every day, along with what could have been.

“How many kids she would have had by now -- she would've been a great mom," Hylinski said. "What kind of career she would've had, mom stuff."

The soon-to-be memorial -- a salute to French and her sacrifice, and what soon will be a visible reminder, reminds Hylinski that French will never be forgotten. 

“Knowing that 100 years from now someone can go and look at that statue and know that this girl lived and did something that we all want to remember her for, it's very humbling,” Hylinski said. “We all look at her as Carrie, we don't look at her like a hero, even though she is, she was just Carrie and we all miss her.” 

Organizers told KTVB they are still looking for help both emotionally and financially. You can get involved here.

As of Tuesday, there was no finished date for this memorial yet, but organizers have started the groundwork for it.

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