News and stories

Monument to Honor Son's Memory, Gold Star Families

April 9, 2017 

Phil Wieland | NWI Times

When their son David was killed in Afghanistan in 2012, Andrew and Patti Nowaczyk, of Dyer, began looking for a way to honor him and all the Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in battle.

Staff Sgt. David Nowaczyk was killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off under the mine resistant assault protected vehicle in which he was riding along with five other soldiers in Afghanistan as part of the Enduring Freedom campaign. Nowaczyk was the only one killed.

He was just 33 at the time and on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, Andrew Nowaczyk said.

“After 9/11 he had only one focus, and that was to go into the Army,” Nowaczyk said of his son.

Born and raised in Northwest Indiana and a graduate of Lake Central High School, Sgt. Nowaczyk left behind his wife, Rachel, daughter Kiley, now 6, and stepson Conner, now 12.

In 2012, Nowaczyk’s parents saw a statue at Fort Hood, Texas, showing a battlefield cross formed by a soldier’s rifle, boots and helmet with a soldier kneeling in front of it. A young girl stands behind the soldier reaching out to him.

The family decided they wanted a similar monument in Northwest Indiana. Instead of the child reaching out to the soldier, the child is in front of the battlefield cross, and the soldier is reaching out to her to show he’s got her back, Andrew Nowaczyk said.

or the last three years, the family has been working with the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to raise the $250,000 to create, erect and maintain the monument, which also will include a wall honoring the Gold Star families. 

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, the fifth anniversary of David’s death, at the Central Park shelter in Dyer, 1532 Calumet Ave.

“We discovered an artist, who approached us and said he would create the statue we liked,” Andrew Nowaczyk said. “The artist is Dr. Edward Bird from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. He had done a statue for my sister’s boyfriend in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and offered to do the clay rendering for us for free.”

The clay version is completed and is being used to cast the statue in bronze for the monument. The funds are needed to pay for the bronze and the base for mounting it in the park. The wall will face the statue. So far, $93,000 has been raised toward the project, which also will include lighting and other electrical work.

Among those who will be attending the groundbreaking will be Hershel Williams, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient. He received it for his actions on Iwo Jima in 1945 while with the U.S. Marines, when he wiped out several Japanese pillbox machine gun nests using a flame thrower during a four-hour assault.

Williams, 93, will be joined by members of the Indiana Patriot Guard; Dyer VFW; Matthew Vincent, the Deputy Director of Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs; Justin Mount, the Regional Director for Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Regional Gold Star Families.

The public is invited to attend the event. Those wishing to contribute to the SSG David Nowaczyk Memorial Fund can go to the website for information.