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Veteran fighting for monument at Fort Drum

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A veteran of the 10th Mountain Division who served in World War II has one hope — to erect a monument to soldiers who have been killed since the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Nate E. Morrell, 85, has worked for the past three years to make this a reality. And now, it's just a battle of funding, he says.

"We have raised a little over $4,000, been mostly small donations," he said. "Everything that could have gone wrong, has gone wrong. It's a difficult time to raise money with the way the economy is. It's how deep can you dig when you know you have to meet other expenses. But I have not given up."

The statue, which would be placed in Memorial Park on post, near the Climb to Glory statue, will cost $280,000. It'll be bronze and depict six soldiers in front of a soldier cross — a makeshift tribute created when a soldier is killed in combat. The cross is made of soldiers boots, a rifle and helmet.

That, to Mr. Morrell, is not the most important part of the monument. Walking away from the reverent portion dedicated to all fallen soldiers, there is a boy chasing after two soldiers. Mr. Morrell said that part of the monument is about hope.

"You have an American soldier, ready to be shot at and risk their life for that young child regardless of what country they are in," he said. "We are there to give them every opportunity we had. What I'm trying to do is get this statue erected to spread that story — the story of those children."

Mr. Morrell, who served with the 10th Mountain Division in Italy during World War II, also spent a year in Korea with the 24th Infantry Division. He was an officer and medic then and he remembered a boy named Jimmy who worked for his unit, fetching water and preparing food.

He said that he taught Jimmy how to speak, read and write English. He made sure he had enough food and warm clothing. Mr. Morrell said he did all this despite the fact it was against Army regulations.

"These young kids that are reaching out to us, that's where I see the symbolism in the two soldiers and the child," he said. "That kid wants to be like Americans and he wants what we have to offer. That's where the education starts if we ever want to change things."

Now, all he needs is money. He is far from meeting his goal currently, and while he is working on cataloging his photos from his time in Italy and South and North Korea, getting the monument up is the most important to him.

Donations can be sent to Fallen Warrior, c/o Angela Dusavion at Americu Credit Union, Bldg. P10750 Enduring Freedom Drive, P.O. Box 258, Fort Drum, N.Y. 13602.

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