The Lone Sailor
May 11, 2011
The Lone Sailor, a 1987 bronze sculpture, is a tribute to all the personnel of the sea services.
The sculpture was created by Stanley Bleifeld for the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The Lone Sailor is modeled on then Petty Officer 1st class Dan Maloney. After giving up on honor guard models, Bleifeld asked New London Submarine Base for someone more typical.
The Lone Sailor statue is a composite of the U.S. Navy bluejacket, past, present and future.
He's called the Lone Sailor, yet he is hardly ever alone, standing there on the broad granite plaza, which forms the amphitheater of the Navy Memorial.
Visitors to the Memorial are immediately drawn to him to peer into his far seeing eyes, to admire him or size him up, to see if he's as tough or as gentle as he seems. Visitors find that he is all that he seems and probably more.
As part of the casting process, the bronze for The Lone Sailor was mixed with artifacts from eight U. S. Navy ships, provided by the curator for the Navy in the Naval Historical Center at the Washington Navy Yard.
The ships span the Navy's history, yielding small pieces of copper sheeting, spikes, hammock hooks and other fragments from the post-revolutionary frigates Constitution (Old Ironsides) and Constellation; the steamer Hartford, flagship of Admiral David G. Farragut in the Civil War era; the battleship USS Maine; the iron-hulled steamer/sailing ship USS Ranger; the World War II-era cruiser USS Biloxi and aircraft carrier USS Hancock, and the nuclear-powered submarine USS Seawolf.
One last addition was a personal decoration from today's Navy, one given to sailors in war and peace, the National Defense Service Medal. These bits of metal are now part of the Lone Sailor.
Stanley Bleifeld served in the Navy in World War II.
Like many other talented artists at the time, he was assigned as an illustrator for Navy training manuals; he never went into battle, but he helped train those who did.
After so long an absence from the Navy, Bleifeld visited the fleet and other Navy activities to help him see anew the American sailor in the sea environment; he further focused his impressions in meetings with the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, other senior officer and enlisted personnel, and his patrons -- the Navy Memorial Foundation officers, staff and board members. These patrons represented literally hundreds of years of Navy experience and acquaintance with the Lone Sailor.
The process of conceptualization, modeling, sculpting, and casting went through five initial images, four different models, and well over a year of work before culminating in the unveiling at the formal dedication of the Memorial on October 13, 1987 – on the anniversary of the Navy's birthday.
The founders of the Navy Memorial envisioned this Lone Sailor at 25 years old at most, a senior second class petty officer who is fast becoming a seagoing veteran. He has done it all – fired his weapons in a dozen wars, weighed anchor from a thousand ports, tracked supplies, doused fires, repelled boarders, typed in quadruplicate and mess-cooked, too. He has made liberty call in great cities and tiny villages, where he played tourist, ambassador, missionary to the poor, adventurer, souvenir shopper and friend to new lands. His shipmates remember him with pride and tell their grandchildren stories, some of which, like him, are seven feet tall.