A watchful eye: The Lone Sailor statue now stands watch over Lake Erie waters

The shores of Lake Erie adopted a new guardian last Friday, Sep. 10 when the USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation and KeyBank unveiled the Lone Sailor Statue outside the Great Lakes Science Center.  

The USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation and KeyBank unveiled the Lone Sailor Statue outside the Great Lakes Science Center. The statue—one of 18 installed in ports around the world—pays tribute to the men and women who served, will serve, or currently in the U.S. Navy—and raises awareness of the upcoming Navy USS Cleveland, currently under construction in Marinette, Wisconsin and scheduled to be commissioned in Cleveland in 2023, says Mike Dovilla, president and executive director of the USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation.

The future ship will be the fourth Navy ship to bear the name USS Cleveland, Dovilla says. During active service, the ship will be based at Naval Station Mayport in Florida and will serve around the world.

After 20 to 25 years, the USS Cleveland will return to its home city to be docked at the Great Lakes Science Center. The ship will become a permanent museum and memorial to all four U.S. Navy ships that have held the name Cleveland. KeyBank has committed $200,000 to this effort.

The Lone Sailor was originally designed by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld, who enlisted in the Navy during World War II and illustrated Navy training manuals.

The Lone Sailor, standing seven feet tall, signifies the men and women who have served, are serving, or will serve in the Navy. He’s called the Lone Sailor, yet he is hardly ever alone. He described as being about 25 years old and a senior second class petty officer who is fast becoming a seagoing veteran.

The Lone Sailor is said to have done it all—fired weapons in war, provided humanitarian assistance in far-away lands, been attacked by the enemy and defended our freedom. He has made liberty calls in great cities and tiny villages where he was a tourist, ambassador, adventurer, friend, and missionary to those less fortunate. His shipmates remember him with pride and look up to him with respect.

The original Lone Sailor statue took command of his place at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. more than 30 years ago. Today, there are 17 replicas around the world, with Cleveland being the location of the 18th Lone Sailor.

Established in 2019, the USS Cleveland Legacy Foundation’s vision is to support positive civil-military relations by creating and maintaining a strong, meaningful, and direct bond between citizens of Northeast Ohio and the crew of USS Cleveland (LCS 31).

The Foundation has a threefold mission: To send USS Cleveland to the Fleet with the greatest start possible; to support the ship and crew throughout her service life; and to welcome her home to Cleveland at the completion of her Naval service.