Trees from Bush's ranch planted at Chris Kyle memorial

Associated Press
Staff Writer

A crew of workers planted live oak trees around the developing memorial to slain Navy Seal sniper Chris Kyle on Thursday, brought to Odessa from the Crawford ranch of former President George W. Bush.

The four trees, each heavier than 8,000 pounds and each purchased from Bush’s ranch for more than $3,000, carry symbols of patriotism, said Kelly Cook, an architect designing the plaza with KDC Associates in Midland. The idea is for the pieces of the memorial to each represent something bigger.

“There’s a lot of hidden symbolism behind the other elements that are going to be in the plaza,” Cook said. “A lot of that we are going to reveal at the dedication.”

Organizers of the project with the Odessa Community Foundation are revealing little ahead of a planned unveiling sometime in July. The foundation is subsidiary of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce.

But there are some early signs like limestone from a Garden City quarry engraved with the names of the 50 states and woven into a Navy Seal trident. The site of the memorial is on Highway 191, near the Veterans Affairs Clinic at the MCH Center for Health and Wellness.

The trees planted Thursday will grow up to 35 feet high with canopies about 40 feet wide that grow into each other and provide shade for what designers envision as a contemplative space for veterans and members of the public. Cook said Medical Center Hospital paid for the trees and other landscaping.

Eventually there will be more engravings, including plans to incorporate messages from Kyle’s children in the statue, the Odessa American previously reported. The memorial plaza will be about 2,800 square feet.

“It’s going to be really, really cool looking,” said Tommy Hawkins of Hawkins Construction, which is building the plaza and like others involved, donated work or discounted costs.

Many people visiting will not pick up on some of the symbolism relating to Special Forces, Cook said.

“We wanted the 2 percent to come out here and it have great, great, great meaning to those people,” Cook said.

For now, a 48,000-pound limestone base awaits a monument-sized statute of Kyle from a bronze foundry in Utah. The statue will stand about 15 feet tall, larger than the original 9-feet-tall figure planned.

Cook said crews also await black granite from a North Carolina quarry that also supplied stone for the National World War II Memorial and Roosevelt memorials in Washington, D.C.

The Wyoming-based sculptor who crafted the statute, Vic Payne, sought input from Kyle’s surviving family members. They included Kyle’s his children and wife, Taya Kyle, who visited the artist in early April to view the sculpture.

Taya Kyle described the visit as “emotional and moving” and Payne as “a man who cares so deeply about getting every detail and nuance right and it shows.”