US sculptor helps restore a Slovak monument

AN AMERICAN sculptor who specialises in crafting war memorials has helped restore a monument to US airmen downed over Slovakia during WWII.

AN AMERICAN sculptor who specialises in crafting war memorials has helped restore a monument to US airmen downed over Slovakia during WWII.

Greg Marra, a master sculptor who has worked in Italy, Austria and Slovakia as well as in his home country, lent his skills to sprucing up the memorial in Záhorie, western Slovakia, helped by his Slovak wife Jana, her father’s firm JAK-STAV, and Slovak aviation historian Ján Babinčák.

The monument records the sacrifice of US airmen John Fassnacht and Merton Haigh, who died when their B-24 bomber crashed near the village of Zohor after being hit by anti-aircraft fire while on a mission over Vienna on October 17, 1944.

The memorial, which resembles a B-24’s rudder, was erected by Babinčák and other enthusiasts in 1995 on the spot where the airmen were originally buried (their remains were later repatriated to the United States). However, the memorial had fallen into disrepair until Marra and his family decided to help restore it.

Pennsylvania-based Marra’s recent work has been devoted to commemorating American military heroes, including George Washington. He said there are several other sites in Slovakia where American planes came down during WWII and, in cooperation with JAK-STAV, he plans to erect more monuments to their crews and to the Slovak partisans who helped them.

To mark the 65th anniversary of the Zohor crash this year, Marra also said he plans to bring David A. Christian, one of the most decorated US soldiers of the Vietnam War and now a prominent veterans’ advocate, to Slovakia to take part in a ceremony.

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