ARLINGTON -- "He's in there. Get ready for something special," exclaimed Greg Marra as he climbed inside the trailer of a pristine moving van, and examined a seven-foot-tall wooden crate.
It contained a life-sized statue of murdered former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Marra sculpted it at his studio in Florida. It arrived Thursday afternoon at Schaefer Art Bronze Casting in Arlington, where the artist helped unload it and prepare it for bronzing.
"He was a sniper, but also a humanitarian. You see that in the piece," Marra said. "The Holy Spirit moves in my hands."
Marra was sculpting a tribute to SEALs at his Sarasota, Florida, studio when he heard Kyle had been killed by a troubled veteran he was trying to help. Greg Marra switched his focus and worked non-stop from photographs.
The soft clay weighs more than 400 pounds. It shows Chris Kyle as he would have looked in Iraq -- imposing and lethal.
A truck driver donated time and fuel to bring it to Arlington. Patriot Guard Riders and police rode escort. When Marra tried to buy a plane ticket, a Delta Airlines employee refused, and paid for it herself.
Marra marveled at how well the statue weathered the trip.
"The American spirit must have held it together," he said.
He's nervous about revealing it to Chris Kyle's family Friday. After it's bronzed in several weeks, he says they can put it wherever they want.
The clay statue will be on public display at Schaefer Art Bronze Casting at 132 S. Collin St. on Saturday and Sunday from 3-6 p.m.
For more information on the artist, who works in patriotic and religious themes, go to his website at this link.