"It will be in the fall of 2018. I believe it will be installed by December 1, 2018. All depends on coordination of everything," King said. "There is an MOU we are circulating right now for each of us to approve and it has the targeted date of December 1, 2018 to have it all done."
King stressed that it is a "great thing that we are all coming together."
"I think it’s even better that the monument is going to be in the city where the accident actually happened," King said. "We are really excited about it."
King also noted that there were no challenges to proceed with the project despite the tense relations between Russia and the United States.
King noted that the monument will be a Russia-made brown statue of the Catalina aircraft that was used during the Lend Lease program with three individuals on it — a representative of the Soviet Union, a representative of Canada and a representative of the United States. The monument will be installed in the waterfront.
"We want the public to come and see it. It’s a beautiful monument," he said..
King spoke before the memorial event to honor the six Russian navy sailors buried at the military cemetery in Portsmouth, Virginia.
At the reception following the memorial service, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that "There was a truly heroic page in our common past when during the Second World War, the Soviet Union and the United States fought together to defeat the Nazi Germany. "
Antonov explained that in 1944-45, "not far from here, at the US Coast Guard Base in Elizabeth City, Soviet pilots were trained by their American counterparts to fly ‘Catalina’ hydroplanes, which were later transported to the USSR. In January 1945, one aircraft crashed during take-off," Antonov said. "To immortalize the perished aviators and other participants of the Lend Lease program, we plan to install a memorial sign at the crash-site and a monument in Elizabeth City."
Antonov also said the project would not be possible without the support of the Coast Guard Base and Elizabeth City, "whose Mayor and City Manager I would like to thank personally today."
"I especially want to extend my gratitude to the American Side of the US Russian Joint Commission on Prisoners of War and Missing in Action, whose role was invaluable during all stages of the project," he added.
The Alaska-Siberia Air Route, or ALSIB operated in 1942-1945 was used as part of the US Lend-Lease program to deliver US warplanes to the Soviet Union. It consisted of roads and airports that began in Montana and ran some 6,000 miles through Canada on to Alaska, where Soviet pilots tested the aircraft before flying them into Siberia to be sent westward for use against German forces. Over 8,000 US warplanes were sent to the Soviet Union along ALSIB to aid the country in its fight against Nazi Germany.