Marine makes statues of fallen soldiers for families

- More than a decade after her son died while serving in Iraq a Bradenton mother got a gift that brought her to tears.

A statue of him - created by a stranger - who's on a mission to honor the memories of Florida’s fallen Marines.

It's been 13 years since Sheila Cobb has gotten to hug her son.

Private first class Christopher Cobb was just 19 when he was killed in a gun battle in Iraq. He was a Marine, following in his stepfather's footsteps.

A couple months ago, Sheila got an unexpected call - a man, asking if he could sculpt a statue of Christopher.

“He told me to send him some pictures of Christopher and I did,” she told FOX 13 News.

That man is Cliff Leonard - a Marine, himself. About 7 years ago, he sculpted a statue of a fallen Marine from Jacksonville, where he lives.

Then, he sculpted all the Marines and corpsmen in the city.

“Finished all those and decided maybe I’ll do all the ones in Florida,” he remembers. “No, I don’t charge the family anything. I have a couple friends who make the wooden bases for me. I buy the wood.”

Saturday, he brought his work to Manatee County.

As he removed the flag, Sheila got a piece of her heart back.

“Thank you for doing that... That's his nose and everything,” she said, looking at the statue.

Cliff said he has one goal -- and that's to please the parents. Mission accomplished.

Pfc. Christopher R. Cobb was one of eight Marines killed April 6, 2004. Cobb was among more than 80 U.S. soldiers to die in Iraq in April 2004 - the bloodiest month of the war up to that date. 

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