The community of Rockford will hold a groundbreaking ceremony this weekend for a statue honoring a Navy SEAL killed last year in Afghanistan, and the loyal dog who touched hearts around the world. Rockford native Jon Tumilson was one of 30 American soldiers killed last August when their helicopter was shot down by insurgents.

Jon’s mother Kathy Tumilson says when completed, the statue will be placed in the Rockford Fossil and Prairie Park. She says they’re having a life-sized bronze statue of Jon and his dog Hawkeye made to be placed out at the park. She says work continues on the statue and they hope to unveil it on Veterans Day.

Hawkeye drew attention after standing guard at Tumilson’s casket before his funeral. Kathy Tumilson says she has been amazed at the outreach by people worldwide since Jon’s death 11 months ago.

“We have people from other continents — we have a guy from Germany that follows along on Facebook — You know they told us at the time of Jon’s death that we was so good at bringing people together. … and even at his death he’s bringing people together,” Tumlinson says. “We have a Facebook family, people I never ever knew and I’m meeting.

Kathy Tumilson says she continues to be in close contact with those who served with Jon. “We’re just so proud of what he did, and proud of the men that he served with,” Tumlinson says. She says among the brotherhood is so great that they always know what her family is doing and they keep up with what the others are doing, so it’s just like having a new family.

Other events taking place on Saturday include a Lions Club pancake breakfast at the Rockford Community Center, a 5-K challenge run/walk starting at the Fossil and Prairie Park and finishing at the Rockford High School, a ceremony remembering those who have fallen, as well as the launch of a program called “Operation Go Crush It”, which is collecting non-perishable items for troops.

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By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City