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Town unveils unusual memorial to honor Green Beret that died in Niger ambush

A fallen hero's hometown unveiled an unusual monument on Thursday night. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black had a life-long love for the game of chess, and now the city of Puyallup hopes to inspire others with that same passion. (Photo: KOMO News)

A fallen hero's hometown unveiled an unusual monument on Thursday night.

Staff Sgt. Bryan Black had a life-long love for the game of chess, and now the city of Puyallup hopes to inspire others with that same passion.

The army ranger's family didn't want a statue, a plaque. or anything else that seemed like a “grave marker.” With the help of city leaders and a fundraising campaign, a pair of iron and marble chess tables have been installed in Pioneer Park to commemorate a man who drew life lessons from the game.

“Chess was an everyday part of his life,” said Michelle Black, the soldier’s wife. “Even on his deployments he had chess sets he would take with him."

Black was killed in an ambush during a special forces mission in Western Africa in October. His mother said he lived every day to the fullest.

“He took life full force, he took risks, he was calculating - he got that from chess - but he put everything into everything he did, and that's really rare in a person," said Karen Black, his mother.

Donations covered the costs of installing the chess tables, and one of the biggest contributors shared his own motivation behind the effort.

“You hope that the love of the game that Bryan had, he continues to share with these children and generations of children to come,” said Erik Anderson, who started the organization America's Foundation for Chess.

Anderson praised Black's example and hopes the soldier's legacy can endure through this game.

For those who want to try out the new boards, chess pieces can be checked-out from the Puyallup Public Library, which is a short walk across Pioneer Park.


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