Will DuBois memorial to be unveiled Saturday | PostIndependent.com

Will DuBois memorial to be unveiled Saturday

Ryan Hoffman
Capt. Will "Pyro" DuBois was unaware his F-16 was descending until the final second before impact in a fatal crash last December, according to a report released by the Air Force.
U.S. Air Force |

Amid the festivities of the annual Burning Mountain Festival in New Castle, the community is invited to celebrate the life of Capt. Will “Pyro” DuBois on Saturday at the unveiling of a monument honoring the fallen fighter pilot.

The ceremony, which starts at noon in Grand River Park, marks the culmination of a more-than yearlong effort to plan and raise money for a roughly 8-foot-tall bronze statue.

“It’s pretty incredible … you really find out what your community is all about when you try to do something like this,” John Lee, a friend of the DuBois family and one of the anchors on the committee that spearheaded the memorial effort, said of the community’s support.

DuBois, a graduate of Rifle High School, died Dec. 1, 2014, in Jordan when his F-16 crashed while on a mission against ISIS. It was his 19th mission against ISIS since he was deployed in October 2014, according to an Air Force report.

Speaking days before the ceremony, Lee said he is still overwhelmed by the widespread support from businesses, individuals, local governments and others. And he is not the only one.

“It just blows me away how all this came together,” New Castle Mayor Art Riddile, who also served on the memorial committee, remarked at Tuesday’s council meeting.

With a fundraising goal of $120,000, Lee admits he was unsure if supporters would be able to achieve that mark by the time of the unveiling ceremony.

They ended up raising around $5,000 more than was necessary for the sculpture, which was done by John Kobald, a sculptor based in Meeker, and money is still coming in, according to Lee.

There are some additional costs related to the actual ceremony, but the account will be closed out and any leftover money will go to the Pyro’s Wings Foundation, a scholarship fund created by the DuBois family to provide financial assistance to future combat pilots.

Saturday’s ceremony will likely last around 45 minutes. With very limited parking options in the park, Garfield School District Re-2 is lending several buses to transport people from downtown New Castle after the Burning Mountain Festival parade, which starts on Main Street at 9:30 a.m. First Baptist Church also will be providing rides up by City Market.

Lee said he sees the ceremony as a celebration of DuBois.

“It’s for the people who knew Will, but also the people who never got a chance to meet him,” he said.

Festivities continue Saturday morning with a pancake breakfast at the New Castle Community Center starting at 7:30 a.m. A car show on Main Street will follow the memorial dedication at 1 p.m. There will be contests and games in Burning Mountain Park, where vendors will be present throughout the day. Live music resumes in the park starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday’s lineup includes the Smuggler Mountain Boys and Lever Action.

Sunday will close out the weekend with several community worship services at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. in Burning Mountain Park.

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