By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - At 10-feet tall, an imposing Charlie Wilson statue now towers over his namesake.
"It's pretty amazing and he's standing guard over what he loved and it makes me happy to see that," said Charlie Wilson's widow, Barbara Wilson.
The memorial is larger than life, like the man it portrays.
"While I always thought of him six feet-four or -five, maybe he was nine-foot," said former state representative Jim McReynolds. "I don't know how tall Charlie was, but he's a big boy on this statue, I'll tell you that right now."
The navy veteran has been memorialized in a book and in the 2007 motion picture, "Charlie Wilson's War." But his bronze likeness stands before what he considered one of his greatest accomplishments.
"This meant more to him than anything, more than the war, more than anything else he's accomplished," Wilson's widow said.
"He said we wouldn't have the VA clinic if it wasn't for earmarks," said Buddy Temple, a close friend of Wilson's. "He said, 'I went in there one day and just switched the word Tyler, scratched out Tyler and put Lufkin and that's how we got the VA clinic.' If that's what really happened, I don't know. That's what he said happened."
One thing is for sure Wilson is the reason this clinic and Marine Corps veteran Ulysses Garner are here today.
"I've never seen him, but the more I look at it, the more I look at the pictures, seems like I know him already," Garner said.
For those close to charlie, seeing their old friend is a comfort.
"To me personally, it means I can come by and have a nice conversation with him whenever I want to, so that's a wonderful thing," Temple said.
He was the congressman behind the most successful covert operation in U.S. history. Now he's the man in front of the VA clinic he so loved.
"I think I speak for everybody just saying we miss him a lot," Temple said.