FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command unveiled a life-sized bronze statue depicting the Greek god of war, Ares, riding a Pegasus centaur, set atop a granite base, in an unveiling ceremony held Tuesday, May 23.

The sculpture was donated to USASOAC by artist Jim Shore as a tribute honoring the men and women of special operations aviation, and now sits along the path to the front entrance of its headquarters building.

Brig. Gen. John R. Evans Jr., host of the ceremony, expressed gratitude to Shore for his generous donation.

"I would like to thank Jim Shore for his incredible contribution," Evans said. "It is through Mr. Shore's benevolence, his patience, and his magnificent artisanship that we are privileged to be able to dedicate this statue today honoring our Special Operations warriors."

The statue is aptly named "Volare Optimos," after the USASOAC motto, which stands for "To fly the best," and Evans explains why it is unique to have it placed in front of the headquarters building.

"It is fitting that as we unveil the 'Volare Optimos' statue, we do so at this installation that for decades has served as the flagship for developing, maturing, enhancing, and evolving special operations ground-force tactics, techniques, and procedures," Evans said.

Evans also noted that "it is here also that over the course of many years, Army Special Operations ground components pioneered the integration of Special Operations aviation to achieve devastating effect against our enemies."

Shore, who had been invited to a capability demonstration of U.S. Army Special Operations Forces here at Fort Bragg some time ago, said he was inspired to create the monument after that experience and what it meant to him.

"I'm deeply honored to be here today. It's humbling to be in the presence of what I feel is greatness," Shore said. "The level of humility among you, the warriors that when I consider what you have achieved, it touches my heart in a way that I have never experienced before."

Shore, who completed projects for various corporations and celebrities, explained that this project has meant more to him than other projects combined.

"I've been doing art-work for an awful long time, and this I consider the absolute pinnacle of my artistic career," Shore stated.

Evans explained that the statue depicts the union of SOF and precision aviation and tells the story of the collaboration, coordination, and collegiality between the two.

"Each assault we conduct, each close-air munition we fire, each search and rescue or resupply mission we support, is executed to provide the lethality, mobility, and versatility required by our SOF ground units so that they might achieve decisive overmatch against our enemies in any environment, at any place, at any time," Evans said.

"It will stand in front of this headquarters as a constant reminder to all who enter the USASOAC, that Army Special Operations ground-forces and USASOAC are inseparable," Evans said. "That we provide greater benefit and effect when we work together recognizing that our individual strengths, while formidable, can never eclipse the whole of our achievements when brought to bear collectively."

Evans concluded with an explanation of why this particular monument was different from other typical aviation statues, and why he believes this was an appropriate choice for USASOAC.

"It stands as a personification of man and machine, of skill and courage, and of duty and sacrifice. It is gratifying to know, that when I tread the path to my headquarters each morning for the remainder of my command tenure, I will not be met with a museum-relic helicopter," Evans said. "I will not be met by a cold piece of granite with the words of some long-dead poet on it, I will instead be met with a reminder that the men and women of the USASOAC have enjoyed the privilege to fly the best."