Enduring Heroes

May 17, 2016

Enduring-Heroes-Memorial_cropTodd, JP, Willie, Sergio, Cory, Rogelio, Joe, Adam, Dion, Carla, and Scott.

They “are a diverse group of young soldiers who, nonetheless, have much in common. Those lucky enough to have known them, remember their bravery, selflessness, and the love they brought into the world.”

They are…

Army 2nd Lt. Todd Bryant
Marine 2nd Lt. James P. Blacksmith
Army Specialist Willie Gilbert
Marine Lance Cpl. Sergio Escobar
Army Private 1st Class Cory Hiltz
Marine Lance Cpl. Rogelio Ramirez
Army Sergeant Joseph Stifter
Army Specialist Adam Rosema
Marine Lance Cpl. Dion Whitley
Army Reserve Specialist Carla Jane Stewart
Army Staff Sgt. Scott Studenmund – June 9, 2014, the first Pasadena citizen to die in Afghanistan

To honor and remember these young men, artist Christopher Slatoff is creating what will be an eight foot bronze sculpture, with the installment in Defenders Parkway celebrated on Memorial Day 2017.


Defenders Parkway; photo source,

Defenders Parkway; photo source,


Defenders Parkway is the lovely 1.8 acres of green space near the Colorado Street Bridge at the southwest corner of Colorado and Orange Grove Boulevards. After 14 months and lots of work, Enduring Heroes founder Shelly Lowe, project manager Rhonda Kozacik, and committee members Jordi Stringfellow and Jaynie Studenmund—along with other ardent volunteers, family members, Gold Star families, sponsors, and supporters—were able to celebrate the City of Pasadena approving this privately-funded memorial in late 2015. The statue will stand among the WWI memorial flagpole and WWII monument.



Committee chair Shelly Lowe (left) and Gold Star mother Jaynie Studenmund welcoming guests


On May 12, Slatoff’s studio was open and the emerging sculpture on view. We are thankful to Jordi Stringfellow, longtime supporter of Hometown Pasadena and owner of Jordi & CO event planning, for sharing her impressions of the evening…

It was well attended by lead donors (private individuals, foundations, major banks, and local businesses), as well as Gold Star family members, Pasadena City Councilman Gene Masuda, Police Chief Sanchez, and stalwart friends, family and supporters of Enduring Heroes. It was hosted by our Steering Committee, which is comprised of chair Shelly Lowe, project manager Rhonda Kozacik, Gold Star mom Jaynie Studenmund, and me, the event chair. The evening allowed our donors the unique opportunity to view the monument in progress and to hear Chris talk about his inspiration and process.




The process involves use of styrofoam and clay—and eventually bronzing. Chris spoke from his heart about the fact that Enduring Heroes is special. He uses color photos of the faces of our fallen military heroes, which are mounted on the wall of his studio, opposite from where he works on the monument. He draws inspiration from their faces, from the stories their family members have told him, and from his own experience as the father of five children. All of this informs his creative process.








Army Reserve Specialist Carla Jane Stewart, 37; hometown La Cañada. Died in Tallil, Iraq on January 28, 2007.

Army Reserve Specialist Carla Jane Stewart, 37; hometown La Cañada. Died in Tallil, Iraq on January 28, 2007.


Jaynie spent time identifying the names of each of the soldiers whose photos grace the studio walls, and introduced the family members present. She thanked our donors for their support and read an inspirational quote about military service. Shelly spoke, acknowledging that all costs of the event (from food, beverage, and decor to service and valet parking) were underwritten by committee members so that no penny given to the monument project was taken away from the monument process, a point of which we are all very proud.

Shelly also mentioned that once the statue leaves and travels up to Berkeley and to the foundry for bronzing, we will be planning the events surrounding its installation in Defenders Parkway West. When the statue is driven back to Pasadena, it will be accompanied and escorted by Freedom Riders, bikers who have served in the military. She further mentioned that the ongoing nature of the maintenance of the statue, once installed, will require our ongoing commitment as a community, and that monies raised go not only to creation of the monument, but also to its maintenance over time.

The Enduring Heroes monument and ongoing maintenance endowment fund relies solely on grassroots donations. For further information about and to donate to Enduring Heroes, please visit EnduringHeroes.US.





“That is why we hold events on Memorial Day, and build monuments to the fallen, not to glorify war but to honor the fallen, those young men and women who stepped into the breach to keep this Nation free and
independent and who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that freedom.”
— Ed Blecksmith, Gold Star Father of JP Blecksmith & USMC Veteran




Looking towards Defenders Parkway

Looking towards Defenders Parkway







Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena