LAS VEGAS, USA – The Las Vegas artist who created the Famous Faces of the Brave piece in tribute to New York’s 9/11 firefighters has died after contracting Covid-19.
Randy Soard was born on Jan 11, 1948 and died due to Covid-19 on Jan 12.
“He died the day after his 73rd birthday,” said the artist’s friend Sebastien Fremont, a French firefighter who he met shortly after 9/11. “He didn’t get the chance to celebrate it as he was in a coma in the ICU.”
Numerous celebrities have posed over the years with Randy Soard’s now-iconic photo-mosaic, ranging from U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, to Hollywood A-listers such as Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, as well as late-night talk show host Jay Leno.
The art piece can also be seen in fire stations and police precincts across the United States. It depicts three New York firefighters with the flag in front of a collage of faces, each of the 343 firefighters who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Las Vegas Citizens Fire Academy posted on their official twitter handle a memory of Soard writing, “R.I.P @LasVegasCFA member @randysoard we will miss you.”
Fremont explained that Soard spent over a month in hospital before passing away.
Fremont put Soard in touch with some widows of the deceased firefighters because the Las Vegas artist wanted to create a piece that would pay tribute to their heroic acts.
“I had rarely met someone as kind and generous as Randy I visited him multiple times at his home in Las Vegas when he would go to the states to see his family, sometimes twice a year,” said Fremont.
Randy and his wife Cindy also visited Fremont in France.
He said the last time that he spoke to his friend was just a couple of months ago and that they had been making plans for the next time they would see each other.
Fremont was visibly moved, he said, “I’m going to miss him”, adding that “it is unbelievable to me. I can’t believe he died. It’s crazy. I didn’t have the opportunity to see him one more time. We didn’t say goodbye”.
In a final farewell, Fremont said, “He is my friend forever and I want to thank him for what he did for the fire service.”
He explained that it was not just about New York or the United States, saying that this work of art has traveled the world and that he even had a copy in his office at the fire station he ran in France. It is now in his office at home.
Soard and his wife were both advisers to the Las Vegas Art Academy. Soard had been a professional photographer for over 50 years.
Four coordinated terrorist attacks were launched by 19 al-Qaeda members, a terrorist organization, on Sept 11, 2001. They hijacked four commercial aircraft and plowed two of them into the World Trade Center. A third plane was crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia while passengers from a fourth aircraft (Flight 93) fought back and crashed it in an open space in western Pennsylvania.
In all, 2,977 people lost their lives in the attacks.
(Edited by Shirish Vishnu Shinde and Ojaswin Kathuria.)
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