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Jacksonville's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Jacksonville, Florida | FirstCoastNews.com

Stories of Service: Marine veteran uses artistic gift to help grieving military families

Cliff Leonard has made about 50 bronze busts over the past 13 years to remember our fallen service members. Each one takes about two months to make.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — In a small room attached to his garage, Cliff Leonard carefully and quietly sculpts clay into the face of a man.

"That's what I'm trying to do now. Get both eyes to be fairly similar," Leonard said as he worked on the sculpture. 

The face he's molding is that of a young marine killed while serving his country. 

"I'm trying to get it as close as I can to the photo I have."

Leonard is a Jacksonville marine veteran, who in his free time, uses his artistic gift to provide comfort to grieving families. 

"I don't charge them anything."

Credit: Cliff Leonard

He's made about 50 bronze busts over the past 13 years to remember our fallen service members. Each one takes about two months to make. But, Leonard will tell you it's worth it. 

"It seemed like each family was more appreciative than the one before."

First Coast News Anchor Anthony Austin asked Mr. Leonard what he thinks about as he brings this clay to life.  He couldn't help but get emotional about his work.

"Never had families. That's usually what I think about. Their stories and friends. It's just kind of hard."

Leonard was recently recognized by the VFW's #StillServing campaign for his work. If you would like to see more of Mr. Leonard's work or contact him, click here.

If you have a story to share, email storiesofservice@firstcoastnews.com