ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The family of a murdered ex-Navy SEAL is now working personally with a sculptor creating a statue of him.

Finishing touches are going on a life-size clay model of famed sniper Chris Kyle that will eventually be turned into a bronze statue.

Though the working clay model appeared detailed when it arrived, the photographs from which Gregory Marra had been working couldn’t capture nuances–muscles and body tones family members knew best.

It remains a work in progress, according to sculptor Gregory Marra. “His (Kyle’s) upper body is so big naturally that if I put more clay on it…it would fall over.”

Chris Kyle–one-time Navy SEALl–is the most lethal sniper in the history of the U.S. military. A tribute page for him lists 160 confirmed kills out of 255 claimed kills. His longest: 2,100 yards, killing an insurgent firing a rocket launcher at a U.S. Army convoy in Sadr City, Iraq, in 2008.

After he retired from the service he helped others re-acclimate to society, and was tragically killed last month—allegedly by one of the men he was trying to help.

Marra tells CBS 11 News he was originally planning on a generic statue to honor all Navy SEALs. “And then the day after Chris got murdered the answer came; and it was to turn the statue to him,” according to Marra

It will take about 2-3 months to turn the clay into bronze because it has to be made into molds with 13-major steps in order for the statue to be fully cast in bronze. “It’s a great honor for us to work on it,” says Joe Schaefer, namesake of Schaefer Art Bronze Casting, Inc.

Schaefer says over the years his company has done such exotic castings as an 18-carat gold tennis racket and a 14-carat gold replica of the Titanic. But speaking of the Kyle statue, “As far as importance is concerned, I think it’s probably tops,” adding, “We’ve done a lot of very prestigious things that we’re proud of but this is probably the one that will capture the most attention.”

Marra says the statue has taken a tragedy and hopefully turned it into a positive story. “I believe this statue—and my work—can restore pride in our nation. I think using something as simple as clay and using statues is obviously a powerful thing.”

He still wants to create a memorial for all Navy SEALs. “To properly build statues that will represent our nation as warriors, the best warriors, the best people, the best nation with the oldest constitution in the world.”

And both men are gratified Kyle’s family seems pleased. The family will ultimately decide where the finished statue will be located.

While much of the work is donated through Marra and American Patriots in Art, the group is trying to raise 85-thousand dollars to offset expenses. The group’s website is with a telephone number of (770) 330-7683.

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