Retired Brockton veteran seeks return of statue

Elaine Allegrini

Each morning, Walter Santory would walk outside, place a small American flag on a statue on his front lawn and salute.

That statue — a soldier, painted to resemble Santory during his service in the first Gulf War — is gone, snatched in the pre-dawn hours Saturday.

“They strolled up here quietly, had to lift it and carry it back to their truck and drove away quietly,” Santory, 55, said. “They had their eye on it.”

A neighbor heard the noise, saw two men put the statue under the cap of a pickup truck and drive away, but she was unable to get the license plate, Santory said.

All that is left is a cement base, void of the 3-foot, 100-pound statue that he saluted each morning before leaving for work at his South End, Boston, antiques shop.

There is also a void in his heart.

“That represents all of the armed forces in America,” Santory said. “It represents me, I dedicated it to myself.”

He purchased the cement statue two years ago at a Holbrook garden center and Ann Strassman, a Boston-based artist, painted it to Santory’s likeness.

On Monday, the single father of three displayed his Army jacket that was replicated on the statue, right down to the medals.

“Ann Strassmen spent two months painting it,” he said. “She wouldn’t take any money. She said, ‘Thank you, thank you for what you’ve done.’”

Passersby would stop outside his Pontiac Road house to admire the statue, he said. Some would knock on the door and ask permission to photograph it.

“It just sat on the base, no one ever bothered it,” Santory said — until Saturday.

All he wants is the statue returned.

“It has no value to anyone,” Santory added, holding the flag that he hopes to place back on the statue and salute it.

Elaine Allegrini can be reached at