Sep 10 2023
Molly DeVore | nwi.com
DYER — When their son was killed while serving in Afghanistan, Andrew and Patti Nowaczyk wanted to find a way to honor his sacrifice. Now over a decade later, two new memorials will help their son's memory live on.
Army Staff Sgt. David Nowaczyk was killed in April 2012 on his third tour of duty when an improvised explosive device went off under the vehicle he was riding in. Nowaczyk was raised in Northwest Indiana and was a 1997 graduate of Lake Central High School.
After their son's death, Andrew and Patti saw a statue at Fort Hood, Texas, showing a battlefield cross formed by a soldier’s rifle, boots and helmet with a soldier kneeling in front of it and a young girl standing behind the soldier reaching out to him. The family was inspired to bring a similar monument to Northwest Indiana.
After years of fundraising, both a statue and a monument will be installed in David's honor. The town of Dyer is marking the installations with a dedication ceremony on Sept. 16.
The bronze-coated statue depicts a soldier standing behind a young girl; the girl represents David's daughter Kiley. The statue will be installed at Pheasant Hills Park, next to the play area. A sign dedicating the play area to David was installed in 2013.
In addition, the family worked with the Hershel “Woody” Williams Medal of Honor Foundation to secure a Gold Star Family Memorial Monument.
The Woody Williams Foundation has installed 126 Gold Star Families monuments across all 50 states, the Dyer monument will be Northwest Indiana's first. The monument, a two-sided black granite wall, will be located in the middle of Dyer's Central Park.
The bronze statue cost $68,295 and the Gold Star Memorial cost $53,704. According to Patti, the largest donors were Kennan Liquor, McKinley Lodge 712, Pipes and Drums of Orak and Smoke Shop.
Dyer Town Manager David Hein said eventually the town hopes to add another granite piece featuring the names of nine Dyer soldiers killed in the line of duty; the names date back to World War I. Later this fall, the town will also plant a sensory garden around the Gold Star monument. The garden will feature various herbs and other plants that activate the senses. Hein said the town wanted to create a space where people can go to reflect after visiting the monument.
The Sept. 16 dedication ceremony will begin at noon at Pheasant Hills Park. The bronze statue will be unveiled during the ceremony and there will be a few guest speakers. At 1:30 p.m., attendees will go to Central Park where the Gold Star Families Memorial Monument will be unveiled.
Hein said both events will feature bagpipes and drums; at 1:30 p.m. the Lake County Sheriff's helicopter will fly over Central Park.