Where One Sailor Stands Alone
Lone Sailor Fort Lauderdale
A Sailor stands tall and strong in the heat of the South Florida sun. He seems to pause in his march along a red brick path to look out across a river. This Sailor embodies honor, courage and commitment. Standing a quiet but vital watch, this "Lone Sailor" represents all Sailors - past, present and future.
The 7-foot, 800-pound bronze statue has been guarding the New River in Fort Lauderdale since 2006, nearly 20 years after the original Lone Sailor statue was dedicated in Washington, D.C. He serves as a picturesque tribute to the strong relationship between the city of Fort Lauderdale, its people and the seas.
"This statue represents the thousands and thousands of Sailors who have worn this uniform and ... those who have paid the supreme sacrifice," said retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Alan Starr.
For those who have donned the uniform and sacrificed their personal freedoms for this country, this statue, as well as 13 similar statues standing watch around the country, holds an emblematic meaning as well.
This is our history. This is our culture. This is who we are. Wearing this uniform here in downtown Fort Lauderdale may look a little out of place, because it's always warm here, but this is what a Sailor looks like. Wearing a pea coat for most of my life - this is me." - Alan Starr
After serving in the Navy as a cryptologic technician from the beginning of Vietnam until Desert Storm, Starr found himself at a naval communications station in Homestead, Florida, toward the end of his Navy career. Starr retired in Fort Lauderdale shortly after the base was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1991, and decided to immerse himself into the community.
"I felt like I had a lot to give back from my Navy experience," said Starr, who became commander-in-charge of the Fort Lauderdale Sea Cadet Division in 1995. "In my heart of hearts, I believe that I am training the leaders of tomorrow."
Many of Starr's sea cadets have gone on to attend the United States Naval Academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, carrying on the proud sea service tradition he instilled in them.
In fact, that tradition dates to before Starr's service. Although Fort Lauderdale is best known for its beaches and year-round sunshine, it has a naval tradition that dates to World War II.
As one of 257 air stations during World War II, Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale made a significant impact on South Florida and the United States in general. The base was initially used for overhauling civil airliners for the military before they were shipped across the South Atlantic to Europe and then North Africa. It later became a main training station for naval aviators and enlisted aircrewmen assigned to aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields ashore. In 1946, the Navy decommissioned the base and returned it to the city for use as a civilian airport.