Mark Davis vividly remembers the day in 2007 when he was watching Fox News and saw members of the military coming home from the Middle East in body bags.

The footage stirred in the Navy veteran’s soul a longing to do something to honor those who serve in the military. He and a pal in the Mid-Alabama Corvette Club in 2008 started a nonprofit foundation called Vettes for Vets to help meet needs of veterans and their families.

But that wasn’t enough for Davis. The Hoover resident also spearheaded the creation of the Veterans Memorial Arbor at Aldridge Gardens, which includes an area called the Gateway Pentagon Plaza to honor Hoover residents killed on active military duty in the “War on Terror.”

A Memory Becomes a Mission

There are three bronze busts of fallen military members from Hoover there, and now Davis and a retired Marine colonel from Tuscaloosa are taking the memorial effort statewide.

Davis and Col. Lee Busby are starting a new nonprofit called the Alabama Fallen Warriors Project, with the goal of raising enough money to create bronze busts of every military member from Alabama killed on active duty since 9/11.

There are about 120 such “fallen warriors,” and Davis estimates it will take another $1.3 million to complete all the busts and get them installed on pedestals.

So far, in addition to the three at Aldridge, there are three such bronze busts in Mobile and Gulf Shores, another on display in Tuscaloosa and two more under design in Tuscaloosa, Davis said. That leaves about 111 yet to be created.