Arizona Silent Service Memorial design

The original rendering of the Arizona Silent Service Memorial design, which was started by artist Renee Palmer-Stevens, changed over the years with much credit going to Nate Decker.

After six years of design, construction and fundraising, the Arizona Silent Service Memorial, which will honor veterans of submarine service who died in the line of duty, has wrapped up. 

The memorial, which incorporates concrete, steel, copper and other materials, depicts a submarine bursting out of the water on an emergency ascent. Last month, the monument was transported to Wesley Bolin Park by Sunland Asphalt & Construction. 

Crews had to use a large crane to lower it onto a truck from Nate Decker’s Art studio in Anthem. That’s where the longtime copper artist spent the last several months completing the project.   

The memorial, which is 14 feet long and 11 feet tall, has been a work in progress for six years. The original rendering of the design, which was started by artist Renee Palmer-Stevens, changed over the years with much credit going to Decker. With many decades of copper experience, Decker redesigned the memorial to be outfitted with copper, representing Arizona and its copper state heritage. 

“I am so honored to be part of this project and to be able to pay my respects for all those who serve to protect our freedom,” Decker said. “My dedication in completing this is only a fraction of the dedication of a submariner and the vets lost for our nation.” 

Completing the project wasn’t easy. Decker said the copper had to be heated, hammered and then sculpted to form the waves, which represent an emergency blow. 

“I painted the copper, to create the texture and color you see as the finish. The walls are faced in copper and I used sulfuric acid with ammonia to paint it and create the blue representation of the ocean,” Decker said. 

The copper work took more than 800 hours for Decker to complete. He worked on the memorial for several months outside of his studio in Anthem in the blistering summer months. 

Commissioned three years ago by the Arizona Silent Memorial, Decker worked collectively with Palmer-Stevens and Jim Martin to redesign the monument in copper. The concrete base was delivered to his studio in February by Sunland Asphalt while awaiting the state’s final approval, before he could begin building the monument. 

Castle Steel made the scaled down submarine that sits on top of the concrete base. After Sunland delivered to the memorial to Capitol, Decker painted the 80-foot Arizona flag on the radius wall that adorns the monument. 

A formal dedication is planned for April 17. For more information or to make a donation, visit Arizona Silent Service Memorial at arizonasilentservicememorial.org.