94-year-old World War II veteran creates spectacular sculpture

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DENVER -- Early on in life, when he was just 5 years old, Fredric Arnold knew he was given the gift to create.

He started out drawing, but soon excelled in sculpting.  He was progressing just nicely but was interrupted by the attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

“None of us knew really anything about Pearl Harbor.  It sounded like a girl,” Arnold said.

Like thousands of other young men, Arnold put pen to paper and enlisted in the U.S. Army.  He was given the opportunity to take a ride in an airplane, and that was all it took.

“I was flabbergasted,” he said.

He soon joined the Army Air Corps and became a P-38 fighter pilot. Arnold flew 50 combat missions in Tunisia and Algeria. The war left an indelible mark on Arnold.

Now 94, Arnold the artist will leave an impression of his own. It’s titled "Lest we Forget: The Mission."

“I don’t want anybody to forget what went on, and remember what sacrifices were made,” he said.

Five years in the making and 3,000 pounds of clay were used to make 12 life-size figures of P-38 pilots being briefed just before a mission.

“Teenager," "squadron leader” and “lucky strike” were the figures nicknamed by Arnold. They represent personalities common in a squadron.

Now the sculpting is done and the figures are being cast in bronze in a foundry in Loveland.  Five of the 12 are cast in a ghostly white, representing the men who were killed in action.