For the past several decades, almost thirty-five years worth,  I have had the privilege and honor of working with a select group of people who have dedicated their efforts to recognize the efforts of and the sacrifices of our military.   It all started for me when I was introduced to a gentleman by the name of Richard Leandri, who was a well known Realtor and Community leader in Clearwater, Florida.  

Tom Falone, a friend introduced me to Richard, telling me we had something in common, and we hit it off both believing in the same things about our country,  the military, and how we could contribute. It was through Richard I met Ellie Scarfone, aka known as Richards Goddaughter.   It has been a privilege to know her for more than thirty years and a lot of projects.

The Special Forces of the United States, namely the Army Rangers, the SEALS and other specialized units hadn’t received any recognition for the work, honor and sacrifice required of their organization, their purpose in a changing world and of course the reason, secrecy was number one.   But as news of their exploits came to the surface, it was time to recognize the sacrifices these men and women deserved, those who worked in the night and  left no footprints.

Training alone resulted in several deaths but were well kept under wraps.  They train as they fight and this was and is dangerous work and with the expansion of our military into the covert actions of the battlefield today, even more so.

Richard, one man, changed all that.  Through contacts and friends he became well know as the God-Father of the Special Operations personnel who can’t exactly give away information and the military can’t applaud itself, so Richard found another way of letting the public see what they do with the building of the Military Memorial in LARGO, FL’s   main park, dedicated to all branches.

It continued on with Richards Organization called “ The Chairborn Rangers”.   A group of individuals, some with prior military training, a few dubious individuals who took it serious and raised funding and in many cases hard labor to bring their exploits and at times professionalism to the forefront.  A motley crew but did their job well.

Immediately work started on The Ranger Memorial at Fort Benning and the organization of the Ranger Games, a yearly competition seen on ESPN.  It was followed up by the building of the beautiful SOCOM Memorial built on MacDill Air Force Base.  

Richard was a mover and shaker, he knew everyone and everyone new him as a successful realtor and developer in Clearwater.  But his strongest suit was his love of the Military, when he passed,  a Memorial plaque was dedicated and hangs in the entrance of the Special Operations Command Building at MacDill recognizing the man who recognized them. 

In the photo you’ll see Al Jacobs presenting Richard Leandri the Golden Grenade Gavel in recognition of his devotion to the Military and especially the Rangers.  

A few days later Richard passed on from a massive heart attack at Ft. Benning soon after the Ranger Games.

Mr. Richard A. (Dick) Leandri was inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame for his dedicated support to the US Army Rangers.  Mr. Leandri established and activated the “  Chairborne Rangers” in 1980, and served as the Commanding Officer of Military Affairs. 

The Chairborne Rangers" are a group of concerned business and professional men who support the military and sponsor the prestigious "David E. Grange, Jr., Best Ranger Competition" annually at Fort Benning, Georgia. Mr. Leandri  contributed immensely to the sponsorship, support, and design of the Ranger Memorial.  Mr. Leandri also established and founded the "Shuffstall Award" which honors the drill sergeant of the year at Fort Benning.

Mr. Leandri was deeply involved in community and civic affairs and was the recipient of over 70 awards for service, including the Sertoma Club’s "Service to Mankind" award, the Exchange Club's "Book of Golden Deeds" award, and the National Secretaries Association's "Boss of the Year" award. 

He received many awards from law enforcement and the military, including the American Defense Citation for outstanding service to the military, awarded by the Secretary of the Army. Mr. Leandri's contributions and dedicated support to the Rangers are in keeping with the highest traditions of selfless service.

The dedication took place for the SOCOM Memorial located on base.   A  few remaining members of the organization re-formed and in October 2000, our latest project,  The USCENTCOM Memorial Foundation, Inc., was formed.


This is the story of the Memorial and those who tried to do the right thing.  Three of us, have been there from day one, almost seventeen years,  it just amazes me, I’m not that patient.   In particular,  let me introduce Ms. Ellie Scarfone, PRESIDENT,  Mr. David Troup, TREASURER, and myself, Alan Jacobson, VP/SEC/OPERATIONS.   

After our successes with previous projects we thought we had the path and plans down pat.  And from the beginning, we might as well simply run headfirst into a wall.  We did, we ran into 911 and the war with no name as yet.   And war creates red tape and received little or no cooperation due to an expansion and what is called  “mission creep”, terrorism a different kind of war, and indifference.  And then,  the dealing with the underlings at the DOD.

√   As established we were a non-profit, Federal and Florida State registered organization, in compliance with code 501 [C] [3] established in 2001.  We were publicly funded, and accepted donations for the Memorial at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Florida. No taxpayer dollars or Federal grants were used other than the land the Memorial is built on, as supplied by the US Air Force.  

√   Our organization is and always has been about the “TROOPS”.  It is not about specific units, branches of service, rank, our board, or individuals.  Our focus was clear and defined, we serve and recognize the “TROOPS and those who have paid the ultimate price in service to their country under the control and direction of the AOR of the Central Command.  They are all heroes

√   All of the funds have been raised by donation.  After sixteen years in existence, the foundation the Centcom Memorial Foundation has completed its task, advancing as far as we could bowing to the priorities and needs of our Armed Forces at the MacDill AFB site.

√   Extreme changes in base admittance policy and numerous delays after delays due to war, transfer, hierarchy changes, rotational deployments,  dealing with the DOD,  base indiscretions, lost paperwork, and indifference have taken a simple three year project and dragged it to seventeen plus years.   

√   We were planning a second “ phase two upgrade”   since it took so long to complete and since all of the tile work needed upgrading, due to imposed delays, but ... time exhausts funding and cooperation.   The DOD owned the time and we had little or no say.   We have fallen back in our attempts to  further expand and upgrade the project due to a lack of cooperation, communication and severe cost increases in material and labor.

√   Security the killer.  Those changes dictated by the DOD, which affected the basic goal we wished to accomplish which was an open Memorial for the civilian community to experience, was not going to happen. 

√   Our plan was for the Memorial to reflect the battles and accomplishments of the Central Command for the General Public.  With plates and plaques of accomplishment, sacrifice,  duty, and honor.  That was the general thought behind the Memorial, in addition to a place for both the solace of  acceptance or closure, for those whose sons, daughters may of paid the ultimate price of freedom in addition to organizational gatherings and speeches as with Command Changes etc.  Access to school children and its history, a meeting place a multi-use rotunda for many applications.

√   We completed the open arm rotunda, the origional plan.  Thus our job is done, and we wish the very best for those who will follow…in supporting the families of the fallen,  and hope the CENTCOMMemorial as it stands will serve its purpose.   The episode with the JAG and delays, the security issues and no way the good people and families of the honored could have access without assistance made continuing the project,  our volunteer to plan a phase two impossible to complete.



When one door closes, it seems another door opens,  a year ago we found we have a new beginning and new project.  After our president, Ellie Scarfone met with Frank DeGiovanni, City Manager of Inverness, a town known for its love of the military, conversation led to cooperation on a level we were not used to.  They were looking for enhancement, we had product and they were willing to pull it all together, graciously.   

Thus a Military Service Memorial, with all the essence of what we were about,  and what the city was about,  and with their  councils approval the die was cast.  Our Memorial Foundation would work with the City to build the Military Service Memorial.

We brought the statures, which could have been used at MacdIll, to their new home.  In cooperation with the city of Inverness Florida, at the beginning of the year ( January 20th, 2018) we will be Unveiling a New City Park and Memorial to those who served in our country’s wars. 

In the photo below our team met with City Manager Frank DiGiovanni, our organizations President Ellie Scarfone, Treasurer David Troup,  Vice President /Sec/Operations  Alan Jacobson and we unveiled the statues we will be presenting to the city for their new Military Service Memorial Park being built in the middle of town and accessible to all.   



After a  1842 mile trip, crated, and weighing  1100.00 pounds, the statues arrived in Inverness, Florida to be stored until ready to be moved to the park next to the government building.

A Eulogy in Bronze

Inverness Memorial Sculpture originally destined for Central Command now in Inverness. FL

By Nancy Kennedy   Sunday, May 29, 2016 
Even before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, the plans for a memorial to honor U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) troops who died serving their country were in the works.

Ellie Scarfone and Al Jacobson, members of the U.S. Central Command Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit, private citizens organization, unveil a set of bronze statues they are presenting to the city of Inverness to use in a permanent display on the grounds of the Inverness Government Center.  Designed and funded by the nonprofit, private citizens organization US Central Command Memorial Foundation, it was to be at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

They broke ground in 2003 and a set of bronze statues were commissioned and completed in 2005 — and then put in storage at a foundry in Colorado for 10 years.  Fast-forward 15 years and $1.2 million later and the memorial at MacDill is completed — but because of a number of reasons, including post-Sept. 11 security measures that restrict the public from easily entering the base, the project has been scrapped, as far at the foundation is concerned.  

So, what to do with the bronze statues? And what to do about the foundation’s desire to honor CENTCOM troops?

Enter the city of Inverness.  “After 10 years in storage — No. 1, the foundry wanted the statues moved, and No. 2, we’ve been trying to find a place that would embrace them and want to do something with them,” said Ellie Scarfone, president of the US Central Command Memorial Foundation. “Last year, I approached Frank DiGiovanni and asked if he would like to use them in the community. 

He and his team have embraced it and came up with a concept that I think will be well-appreciated and well-seen — I’m thrilled.”

Recently, Scarfone, fellow foundation board members David Troup and Al Jacobson and Inverness City Manager DiGiovanni met to unveil the statues and talk about their final destination on the grounds of the Inverness Government Center.  

The statues, made by Colorado Springs-based sculptor Scott Stearman, depict two soldiers, modeled by actual soldiers from Fort Carson near Colorado Springs: Specialist Ontario Washington and Sgt. Amy Perkins.

The sculpture of Washington shows him kneeling to remember his fallen brethren, his eyes downcast and his expression stoic but pained.  “His boots are worn, his CamelBak is empty, he’s holding his gloves in resolve,” Scarfone said.  Perkins’ hand rests on Washington’s shoulder. 

In the process of modeling for the sculpture, Perkins, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, revealed that she had 7-year-old twin daughters and a fiancé who lost his life in the line of duty.   “In her helmet — troops typically put photos of their loved ones in their helmet, so we have pictures of her twin daughters and a picture of her fiancé, who had just been killed,” Scarfone said.

The original concept was to have the two soldiers looking at a wall of names of those who had lost their lives in the Global War on Terror, but foundation members realized “the wall would never end.”

Instead, the figures are looking at a battlefield cross: the rifle, boots and helmet of a fallen brother or sister in arms arranged in a memorial to their life and service.

“The fact that these statues are taken from real life — it’s a very powerful statement,” Jacobson said.

The city plans to mount the statues in the plaza outside the government center in downtown Inverness, atop a black granite platform illuminated in relief by uplighting.  With a huge  wall in the background.

When the project began in 2001, the US troops killed in the ongoing war numbered several hundred, Jacobson said. That number now nears 7,200, according to the Department of Defense; more than 52,000 troops have been wounded.

Inverness is close to the Florida National Cemetery. The Florida National Cemetery is part of the United States National Cemetery system located near the city of Bushnell in Sumter County, Florida.  Administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, it encompasses 512.9 acres, and began interments in 1988. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018, The Military Service Memorial  for the fallen will be presented today to the public in the Florida City of Inverness.  The city has graciously provided the resources for a new city park located strategically in a very high traffic area where it will be seen, open to and experienced by all, 24/7/365.

It is close to the hallowed ground of the  Florida National Cemetery located in Bushnell Florida, next  to highways 41 and 44 on the side of the government center building in a beautiful new park.  

It is this proximity to the cemetery and an incredible supportive community of military retirees and avid supporters of the military that this town of Inverness is known for, it  made the selection for our project simple.

Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. 

Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial. 

DEDICATION - 20, 2018 Saturday  -  The unveiling of the monument in Inverness was on JANUARY 20, 2018. 
Inverness is a great little city.  It was voted greatness by and designated a “Gateway Community” by the Florida Trail Association. Since 1995, Inverness has been recognized as a Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the US Forest Service. In 2009, Inverness was named “City of the Year” by the Forty and Eight, a national veterans’ organization.   

Incredible a population under 8000 but always something to do and a very active town, something going on, concerts and the likes with a fair amount of space there is always a seat at the table in some great little eating spots. Lots of mom and pop places with great food.

And the city draws crowds of people, plus seasonal snowbirds,  voted the top little city in the USA and it is a strong military town, filled with retirees from every war.   It is also one of the fastest growing communities in Florida with all kinds of great things soon to happen.

The City of Inverness designed and built the park for the statues that we donated, it’s really a  major city event, their show and we couldn’t agree more about how well the presentation went .

For the first time in thirty-five years of doing this work for the recognition of our military, our team, Ellie, Alan, and David can sit back and relax knowing the work we did will be appreciated and acceptable to all.  I am proud of our teams effort and closure, and we thank humbly the City of Inverness.  The statues location was paramount to our initial plans for public acceptance and makes the representation easily available to the public. 


•  Greetings by the Mayor of Inverness - Bob Plaisted
•  City Council - Hepfer, Hinkle, Mcbride, Bega, and Ryan

•  Invocation by the City Chaplain Stan Beach
•  Pledge of Allegiance - Cabot McBride
•  National Anthem - Angela Vick

•  Flag Presentation - Ken Hinkle and Junior Marines
•  “Proud to be an American”   Videotron - Lee Greenwood
•  Speaker - Al Zimmerman, Viet Nam Distinguished Helicopter Pilot 
•  Memorial Team - Ms. Ellie Scarfone,   President and Introduced our team David Troup and Alan Jacobson
•  Sculptor Artist - Scott Stearman
•  Closing Remarks - Frank DiGiovanni - “I’m humbled, moved, blown away,” DiGiovanni said at the unveiling. “This is an incredible presentation of the effects of war, and these are lifelike, real-life people brought from the battlefield to Inverness in a memorialized manner. 


This is incredibly impressive.”  “I had originally thought it should go to Liberty Park because the 9/11 memorial is there and it’s a larger, more open space,” Scarfone said. “But with the proposed changes to the area, this makes much better sense.   
Frank DeGiovanni: “ Sometimes it’s wonderful that things don’t go the way we plan them”  Look what we have here. Alan Jacobson Interceded:  “Yes and with a little divine guidance and patience we have exceeded our expectations

I have included here some notes I had a speaker not made the presentation:  Up dated version for future presentation and meetings. 
My name is Alan Jacobson,  I am the Vice President and Secretary of the Memorial Foundation.  I appreciate the opportunity to meet with you.  What a beautiful day, January 20th, 2018!  For our organization it was the culmination of seventeen years of tribulation and effort.  The weather was with us.  The important people were in attendance the Veterans and their families to whom we owe so much.  

On January 20th, 2018 just about noon in Inverness, the good LORD was looking down and he liked what he saw.

A dedication, is when we gather to celebrate and honor the lives of the Infantry Men and Women of our Armed Forces:
•  Those currently serving today;
•  The heroes who have served us before;
•  And to recognize and never forget those who paid the ultimate price of freedom.
•  We shall never forget those silent warriors, they live on in our memories;
•  Nor the families, the survivors who have endured tragedy and loss.  They are hero’s too, for they have to pick up the pieces and go forth.

•  When we unveiled the Statues I envisioned the Phoenix, the beautiful powerful bird that rose from the ashes. The Memorial Statues too have risen from the ashes, but out of a foundry, skillfully crafted, proudly they took to the skies, and the staues are perfection. 

•  The setting In this beautiful park and hallowed ground is where it was meant to be.  Inverness deserved the statues for all to see.  Its simple, Inverness loves the Military and the Military loves Inverness.  And in perpetuity recognizes the best in our causes and a wonderful gift God has given us...FREEDOM.

•  Our team led by Ms. Ellie Scarfone, David Troup and myself represent the organization who brought the statues here, the incredible lifelike work of sculptor Scott Stearman who was with us at the dedication. 


Though I have been out of the service for five decades I still remember the things that are important, Duty, Honor, Courage. Few things change your life and make you grow up as much as doing a bit of military time.  I learned a few things in the service. I was young. 

•   A sergeant told me once in the military, you grow up when you hear the first bullet whiz over your head.   Many of us know that now.

•  I became a believer,  but I think some kind mandatory service to your country is an essential part of the total development of the youthful citizen.  You want to pay down college credits and go to school, work for it, you serve your country. And our government has needs and can work out those programs.

•  We can still have a volunteer Army, but all our citizens should be trained as compulsory reserves at the ready.  Or serve in an organization helping others, even  working in infrastructure, schools, teaching , mentoring, making our country better.  Give something back to get something.

•  Service to our nation would avert many of the social problems the kids learn as they get the wrong kind of peer influence from the street.  

• Four our generation, we had our own set of names and values, ”Big Red One”, And units like the 101st and the 82nd Airborne.   They have far more, much more powerful meanings than MS-13.

•  And lastly I can remember.   “ Nothing is as warm and nurturing as a Drill Sergeant teaching proper table and utensil etiquette when your cuisine is a delicious concoction called SOS and totally and tasty synthetic food called a MRE”.   

•   Oh the joy and wholesomeness when you wake up to Chipped Beef on Toast (SOS)  for the first meal of the day instead of a Sausage McMuffin.   It had meat, we never questioned what kind, it but it had meat.  --  I hate to admit it,  I do like Sausage Gravy over Buttermilk Biscuits,  I got my recipe from a Chef at the Marriott Chatham in  Atlanta.  Best SOS on a road trip to date.

•   And the kids today, can do all the  break dancing they need,  try those moves first on the obstacle course with machine guns rattling over your head.  I remember a lot...

The preservation of life sometimes entails the horrific loss of so much of our national treasures, the men and women, our loved ones, together with so much suffering, the demand of so many young and promising lives!

To honor their legacy, we commit ourselves to be more vigilant in our love for others, for our nation, and the cause of freedom, justice and peace throughout the world.   May our nation be a source of blessing to all its people and to the rest of mankind.

The statues depict the universal soldier, anyone with time knows regardless of your job, you were at times, all-branch  Infantry Soldier. They were known by many names, almost a bit of humor, you could be called a G.I. Joe,  a Dogface, a Squabbie, a Squib, Grunt, a Jarhead  and USMC stood for Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children.  

We had Flyboys,  Zoomies and Wingnuts.  And our beloved “ Coasties", those whose job is on the line every day working with Homeland Security.  

And still the box is not full, there are those who work in the dark and cannot  be recognized for their own safety.

My point is this: Regardless of their job and position in the military, branch, unit, organization, group or command, basic training entailed some form of infantry training. Everyone in the military was an infantryman whether they knew it or not.
And you were expected when needed to assume who and what you were, a soldier.  You can own the skies, own the seas, but it was when the foot soldier on the ground that occupied and ended the war.

And when the timing and cause depended on them, they picked up their rifles and took up their positions. Just ask the Battling Bastards of Bastogne.  Churchill referred to it as America’s greatest land battle. Courage and conviction prevailed.

MY INVOCATION:  Lord, the goal you gave us is not to perpetrate war, but to safeguard peace and preserve your great gift to man, which is Freedom.  May you always be near to us to guide us in decisions, comfort us in our failures, and keep us humble in our successes.  May God Bless the troops, may God Continue to Bless the Fallen by providing for their loved ones and may God Bless America.

Alan Jacobson


For thirty-five  plus years I have carried camera and pad and tried to tell the story of those forgotten through actions and Memorials.   Of all the changes that have taken place in the military, it the style of war that has changed the most.  In WWII the ratio of Killed In Action to Wounded was significantly higher than today.  It was a war of bombing, huge artillery battles, armies out in the open, massive troop movements and vulnerabilities.  

War today is different, it is illusive, deadly, with little distinction between combatants and civilians, unmarked enemies, no regard for women and children, they simply are numbers.  Torturing, beheadings, drownings, rape and murder are accepted and sometimes utilized under the guise of religion.  We call it terrorism, they call it something else....  

And getting back to the  numbers,  the Viet Cong started a trend in Guerrilla war that means if you wound someone severely enough it takes seven other soldiers out of action to save a life.  Especially since we are not on the battlefield, we are in the jungle.

Currently the Middle East incursion and resultant Arab spring  the longest war in our history has cost us 7000+ lives and 52,000 wounded requiring in many cases lifetime medical support.  The numbers support the odds.  This is a tactic to break the will of the country in proceeding further.