Fallen Coast Marine Honored Through Art

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Some coast school children may find the inspiration to pursue their dreams by remembering a man who followed his. On Friday, Saint Vincent DePaul Catholic Elementary School dedicated a mural in honor of Marine sergeant and Long Beach native Donnie Levens. Nearly three years ago, the 25-year-old was killed in a helicopter crash while serving in Africa.

As Marines carried the nation's flag through the halls of St. Vincent Depaul elementary, the principal wanted the children to think about how a boy who'd been a young catholic school student just like themselves had grown up to be a hero. His name was Donnie Levens.

Principal Elizabeth Fortenberry said "I want them to learn a love for country. A love for family and as with Donnie a love for God. "

The procession ended here in front of a larger than life mural in honoring the life and sacrifice of Sgt. Donnie Levens. The helicopter was painted by Sandra Salvage in the school library for all the children to see. And enjoy.

"I hope that they remember him that's important," said Salvage. "And also the kids using their imaginations is just a wonder."

Levens' mother was deeply touched by the mural. She says it symbolizes a dream to fly that her son had as an eight years old and never gave up.

Margaret Levens said "He loved to read and flying was his life.  I hope all the children read and soar to new heights."

Margaret Levens says her son loved children and volunteered his time helping them. She said the love and support of the community have given her comfort these last few years since her son's death.

"It feels like Donnie's life is finally complete," she said.

School officials say Sergeant Donnie Levens was a graduate of St. Thomas Catholic Elementary School a school that was destroyed in Katrina and then replaced with St. Vincent Depaul.