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Kentucky group working to honor fallen Guardsmen and women with state monument

The proposed Kentucky National Guard Memorial will feature the names of hundreds of Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their state and nation. The monument is slated for construction near the entrance to Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. (Image courtesy Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund)

The proposed Kentucky National Guard Memorial will feature the names of hundreds of Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their state and nation. The monument is slated for construction near the entrance to Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. (Image courtesy Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund)

The proposed Kentucky National Guard Memorial will feature the names of hundreds of Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their state and nation. The monument is slated for construction near the entrance to Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. (Image courtesy Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund)

The proposed Kentucky National Guard Memorial will feature the names of hundreds of Kentucky Army and Air National Guardsmen and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their state and nation. The monument is slated for construction near the entrance to Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. (Image courtesy Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Names. Hundreds of names. Hundreds of names of Kentucky men and women who died while serving their state and nation in the Army and Air National Guard. Names that are only remembered today through stories handed down to family members.

To Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund committee member Charlie Jones, whose son's name is among these ranks, the stories are not enough.

"My son, Sgt. 1st Class Charles Jones, served in the 149th Infantry Brigade as a combat medic and was deployed to Iraq in 2006," Jones said. "He was proud to serve and never hesitated when asked to go. He was just not fortunate enough to come back."

Jones and 20 other committee members, most of them retired military and veterans, are raising money through the fund to build the Kentucky National Guard Memorial, where each name of fallen Kentucky Guard members will be etched in stone as a tribute to their sacrifice and dedication to the Commonwealth.

The memorial will be located at the entrance to Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort, Ky. A large granite stone in the shape of the state will serve as the focal point of the memorial, where each name will be etched. In front will be a larger-than-life-sized bronze statue of Daniel Boone, to be sculpted by Wyatt Gragg.

"This memorial serves two purposes," Jones said. "It is a reminder to the family members that we have not forgotten the sacrifice their service member made. It's also there to let future military members know that we are behind them and are supporting them and will never forget what they are about to do for the people of this great state."

The construction of the memorial, which was designed by Bender Associates Architect, will take approximately six to eight months to complete, Jones said. The site of the monument is largely an open rocky area that has been set aside, awaiting more funds to pay for the project before construction can begin.

According to James LeMay, committee secretary, the group has raised about half of the budget needed to begin construction, mostly through private contributions, corporate donors and fundraisers such as a golf scramble.

"Our donors have been very generous in gifts and donations of work and supplies needed," LeMay said. "However, we need an additional $800,000 to move the memorial forward toward completion. We would like to be able to dedicate the memorial in the fall of 2014 if we can get enough private donors and grants."

Tax-free donations can be made through the fund's website at www.guardmemorial.com. Each sponsor's name will be displayed at the monument's entrance, officials said.

"Putting together the fund and building the monument became personal for me on that day when my son died," Jones said. "He went out and did what he was asked to do.

"The names waiting to be put on this memorial are Kentucky's children," he continued. "They represent each county in the Commonwealth. Donating to the fund is the right thing to do. It's the least we can do to honor their memory."