PARKERSBURG - Following two years of work by his friends and family, a memorial honoring Parkersburg native Chief Nicholas H. Null and other area servicemembers was unveiled and dedicated Saturday in Parkersburg.
Approximately 300 people, including family, friends, supporters, veterans and active servicemembers gathered Saturday at City Park for the dedication of the Fallen Soldier Memorial in an event organized by the Nicholas H. Null Memorial Foundation.
Null was an elite EOD/Naval Special Warfare Development Group member whose helicopter was transporting his team on a mission when it was shot down by Taliban soldiers with a rocket-propelled grenade on Aug. 6, 2011. Null was killed along with 38 other military personnel, including 22 SEALS from SEAL Team 6 and one service dog, reports said.
The new Fallen Soldier Memorial at City Park was dedicated Saturday in a ceremony attended by about 300 people. Standing to the right of the new plaza with a portrait of Nicholas H. Null are Alan Litman, left, his stepfather, and Tracy (Null) Kendall, his mother. (Photo by Wayne Towner)
The memorial is located at the center of a 25-foot circular plaza with a short walkway connected to the parking lot next to the City Park pond. The memorial is located adjacent to the pond and to the Veterans Memorial Plaza in that section of the park.
It features a fallen soldier statue honoring Null - a Parkersburg native and Parkersburg South High School graduate - and the other servicemembers who died with him on the helicopter. There are also be three granite pieces honoring local fallen from Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan featured on the small plaza.
Alan Litman, Null's stepfather, said the support of the community was essential to getting the project completed and he was glad to see the day come for the dedication of the new memorial.
"It's a place for the community to come over and be able to show their respect to the soldiers that gave all," Litman said of the new memorial, which joins the other memorials in the park honoring past service.
Tracy (Null) Kendall, Null's mother, said it was on the first Saturday in August two years ago that the family learned of Null's death and those in his team.
"We decided that from now on we were going to celebrate Nick's life and his team, so we stay really, really busy with this," she said.
With the culmination of the memorial project, Kendall said the foundation created in Null's name will continue its fundraising efforts, with future proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project for families that need help.
"Every day that we go through this, there's a new family starting where we were two years ago. It doesn't matter if it's been two years or 20 years, it still hurts the same as that day. With all of you, we get get up every day and we keep going," she said.
Family members of other local servicepeople who lost their lives in Iraq, Afghanistan and Desert Storm were among those invited to attend Saturday's program, with many of those lost appearing on the new memorial.
The speakers at Saturday's dedication included Don Mann, a retired Navy SEAL and author, painter Phil Taylor with the American Fallen Soldier Project, who presented a portrait of Null to his family, and local attorney and veterans advocate David Huffman.
"We will never forget Nick, or his teammates or all of those who have given their lives in this valley or in this country," Mann said during his remarks prior to the memorial's unveiling, asking people to keep those still serving overseas and elsewhere in their thoughts. "Those are people who are willing to give their lives for our freedoms that we all enjoy and sometimes might take for granted."
Saturday's dedication was part of a day-long series of activities to honor Null's memory, including the annual Chief Nick Null Memorial 5K Race, entertainment and other activities at City Park.