Charleston Naval Base Memorial
Charleston Regional Business Journal     03/25/2002

Memorial to honor Navy vets and shipyard workers

By Dennis Quick, Assistant Editor/News & Features

From its inception in 1901 to its closing in 1996, the Charleston Naval Base was a cornerstone of America's defense. The number of sailors who were stationed at or passed through the base, plus the number of civilians who worked in the shipyard during the base's 95-year history, might be too huge to calculatebut not too huge to honor.

The Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial in North Charleston will do exactly that.

Slated to occupy a 2.7-acre site on the base, the memorial will pay tribute to the thousands of military and civilian personnel who served on the base and educate visitors about the base's history.

The memorial's feature attraction will be a brick fountain emitting a misty fog. Three bronze sculptures of Naval vesselsa submarine, a landing craft and a destroyer, the predominant vessels built at the shipyardwill stand behind the fountain while five flag poles bearing the national colors, the state flag, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps ensigns and the Navy base flag stand at the fountain's entrance.

Bricks engraved with the names of those who served at the naval base will be laid between the fountain area and a pavilion to be located across from the memorial. The pavilion will serve as a facility for shipyard and Naval reunions, plus other social activities.

The engraved bricks constitute the memorial's Buy-a-Brick program. For $100, patrons can purchase a brick and have it engraved with the name of a friend or relative who served on the base.

"So far we've raised $32,000 from the Buy-a-Brick program," says Ed Fava, chairman of the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial Inc.

Fava estimates the total cost of the memorial will be about $1.5 million. His organization so far has raised $440,000 of its $500,000 goal. "North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said he'll raise the rest of the money," says Fava.

It was Summey who in 1999 approached Fava, former Charleston County Administrator and a retired Navy captain who served at the base, with the idea for the memorial.

"Mayor Summey wanted a tastefully done memorial that would help the local economy, educate the public and provide a place for veterans to meet, in addition to paying a fitting tribute to the base's military personnel and employees."

Fava gathered twelve retired military and civilian volunteers and formed the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial Inc. In June 1999 they held their first meeting. Shortly afterward they achieved their not-for-profit status. Then they presented their memorial plan to the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority, and the RDA gave them the 2.7-acre site in front of Building 234, the old Charleston Naval Shipyard Administrative Building.

The memorial will include "garden rooms," each depicting a segment of U.S. military history and the role the Charleston Navy Base played.

Fava and his organization are raising money for the memorial through advertising (primarily the Buy-a-Brick program), local governments and the business community. Major contributors so far include the South Carolina Federal Credit Union, which has donated $125,000 for the fountain; Warren and Donna Lasch, who contributed $100,000 for one of the shipping sculptures; and the Zucker family, which donated $75,000 for the pavilion.

Mount Pleasant-based Seaman, Whiteside & Associates Inc. will perform the memorial's civil engineering and landscaping.

According to Fava, the memorial should take no more than a year to build.

"We'd like to begin construction early next year, but we want to see how the Noisette project and Mayor Summey's Cooper River waterfront plans develop," says Fava. "We want to coordinate the construction of the memorial so that it complements those two North Charleston revitalization projects."

For more information about the Greater Charleston Naval Base Memorial, call 740-2558.