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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Cpl. David Sonka and K9 Memorial, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville

  • Type

    Statue

  • Subjects

    Other Wars

    Animal Monuments

    Afghanistan War, 2001-2014

  • Creator

    Lena Toritch, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sculptor

  • City

    Jacksonville

  • County

    Onslow

  • Description

    The memorial includes a canine statue and a marker of a Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Multi-Purpose Canine (MPC) kennel named after Corporal David M. Sonka, a Marine dog handler who was killed in action. The bronze monument depicts a life-size Belgian Malinois in a sitting position, wearing his full deployment kit with ears perked, appearing ready to spring into action. The statue honors fallen MPC Flex and all military dogs that serve and protect. It stands to the right of the brick and stone marker designating the Corporal David M. Sonka Multi-Purpose Canine Facility. Lying flat in front of the sign is a black stone maker listing five Marines and two canines killed in military operations in Afghanistan. Across the top of the marker is “sub viri fortes,” meaning “the brave.” Near the bottom center is the symbol for Marine Corps Special Operations Command. The statue was commissioned for and dedicated along with the Multi-Purpose Canine kennel at Camp Lejeune Marine Base being renamed in honor of Corporal David M. Sonka. Sonka was killed along with Marine Staff Sgt. Eric D. Christian on May 4, 2013 while conducting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. Sonka’s working dog, Belgian Malinois Flex, was also killed in the attack, reportedly in an attempt to save the Marines.

  • Inscription

    “SUB VIRI FORTES” / 31 JULY 2011 - SGT CHRISTOPHER M. WRINKLE - AFG / 28 SEPTEMBER 2011 - SSGT CHRISTOPHER DIAZ - AFG / 24 MAY 2012 - CPL KEATON G COFFEE - AFG / 19 JULY 2012 - SGT JOSHUA R ASHLEY - AFG / 4 MAY 2013 - CPL DAVID M. SONKA - AFG

    31 JULY 2011 – MPC TOSCA – AFG / 4 MAY 2013 – MPC FLEX - AFG

  • Custodian

    Camp Lejeune Marine Base

  • Dedication Date

    September 7, 2015

  • Decade

    2010s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    34.584870 , -77.449450 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Pippen, Jannette. “Canine Facility Dedicated to Fallen Marine,” Jacksonville Daily News (Jacksonville, NC), September 7, 2015 (accessed January 4, 2017) Link

      Seck, Hope. “MARSOC Honors Fallen Marine Dog Handler,” Marine Corps Times (Vienna, VA), September 4, 2015 https://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story/military/2015/09/04/marsoc-honors-fallen-marine-dog-handler/71698408/ Link

      “Building to Be Dedicated for MARSOC Marine Killed in Combat,” US Marine Corps Life, September 6, 2015, (accessed January 3, 2017) Link

      “MARSOC K9 Life-size Bronze Statue,” LenaToritch.com, (accessed January 3, 2017) Link

  • Public Site

    No

  • Materials & Techniques

    Bronze, stone, brick

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Tory Sonka remembered her late husband’s love for the Marine Corps and his work as a dog handler. “His dream was to be a dog handler and he was doing exactly what he wanted to be doing,” she said following the dedication ceremony at Stone Bay.

  • Subject Notes

    Master Sculptor Lena Toritch, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, has created several Military K9 Statues for different branches of the US Military including one at the Airborne and Special Operations in Fayetteville, NC. She has also sculpted K9 statues for law enforcement agencies across the country.

    Corporal David M. Sonka was a multi-purpose canine handler assigned to 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion. The canines used by Sonka and MARSOC have three primary tasks of explosives and human odor detection; man tracking and trailing; and protection for the handler and teammates. Sonka was on his second deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when killed.

  • Location

    The memorial is located in the Stone Bay area of Camp Lejeune, NC.

  • Landscape

    The memorial stands in front yard of the kennel facility.

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