CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A sculpture honoring the strength and resilience of the 101st Airborne Division was unveiled Friday at Patriots Park at Fort Campbell.

Created by artist Mark Aeling and his team in Clearwater, Florida, the sculpture is made of 10,000 pounds of surgical-grade stainless steel. Base included, the “Tip of the Spear” is an impressive 27-foot symbol of the 101st.

Members of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell Command Staff, Montgomery County, City of Clarksville, business sponsors, and representatives from the County Public Art Ad hoc Committee gathered Friday to the reveal of the Tip of the Spear statue, according to a release.

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  • 101st statue Patriots Park
  • 101st statue Patriots Park
  • 101st statue Patriots Park
  • 101st statue Patriots Park
  • 101st statue Patriots Park
  • 101st statue Patriots Park

The Fort Campbell Honor Guard posted and retired the flags during the reveal ceremony. City of Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts offered the prayer. Comments were made by Aeling, Chief of Staff of the 101st Airborne Division Col. Jared Bordwell, and Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett.

A project to honor Fort Campbell soldiers has been more than 10 years in the making. It began with Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett’s vision in 2012, while working in the private sector, to bring artwork near Fort Campbell that would be a lasting tribute to the men and women who served there. He shared his idea with friend Kem Hintom who was in Leadership Middle TN with him at the time and was also involved in the Wings of Liberty Museum project. Their original vision was 3-D laser steel artwork that looked like soldiers.

“I actually have a picture dated February 2012 of me and my good friend Jeff Truitt, who’s out here today, at this location looking at the vision. That was a long time ago, but good things take time. A group that bought into that vision back in 2012 and 2013. They included Dex Imaging, James Corlew Chevrolet, Planters Bank, Valerie Hunter-Kelly, the City of Clarksville, Jenkins & Wynne, Montgomery County, F&M Bank, Clarksville Pediatric Dentistry, US Bank, The Settlement Day Care, Clarksville Rotary Club, Wyatt Johnson, Inc., Gannett Foundation (Leaf-Chronicle), Legends Bank, Cumberland Bank & Trust, and Campbell Crossing. We raised $100,000, and that money sat there for a long time. We weren’t where we needed to be yet and did not know exactly what we wanted to build, and along came this idea to run for County Mayor, so that kind of sidetracked the project, but the dream never died. It was something I could always see as I drove up and down 41A to honor and recognize the service of the men and women at Fort Campbell,” said Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett.

Shortly after he was elected, Mayor Durrett and then Chief of Staff Jeff Truitt requested and received approval from the County Commission to create a public art fund. They put a public art ad hoc committee in place in 2017. Based on Mayor Durrett’s idea to include art near Fort Campbell to pay tribute to the men and women who served, the committee conducted a nationwide search and received over 80 submissions. The Tip of the Spear, by artist Mark Aeling, was selected, and the County entered into a contract with Aeling to construct and install the sculpture in late 2020.

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“When I was selected as a finalist and did some research into the area, I was incredibly relieved to discover the connection to the 101st Airborne Division and the Screaming Eagles because I am a lover of birds and particularly wings because the magic of nature is pretty spectacular. As an artist, you try to find a thread to connect what you’re interested in with the interest of the commissioning body. To discover the relationship with Fort Campbell and the history of the 101st Airborne, it was a no-brainer which direction I wanted to go. To date, this is one of my favorite pieces,” remarked Aeling.

“Clarksville, Montgomery County is a great place to live. It is my hope and my dream that this will be an everlasting legacy and monument to those who have served at Fort Campbell, those who are currently serving, and those who will serve,” added Mayor Durrett.

The sculpture is located at 3176 Patriots Park, Fort Campbell Blvd., between Gates 2 and 3.