When Royal Marine commando Paul Woodland died on a training exercise, his partner wanted his name engraved on his home town cenotaph in Penarth.
But because he did not die in war or conflict, the request was turned down.
Mr Woodland died in a training exercise with the elite Special Boat Service (SBS) in October 2012.
His partner Sian Woodland has now raised £17,500 to pay for a bronze and Portland stone memorial which will be unveiled in the town's Alexandra Park.
Vale of Glamorgan council said it could not add Mr Woodland's name to the town's cenotaph because he did not die in a war - but donated £7,500 to the appeal and land in a garden of remembrance where the new tribute will be placed.
Ms Woodland said: "We were told he couldn't have his name on there because he didn't die at war or conflict.
"We found that really difficult because he went to Afghanistan, he did the things military guys do.
"He fought for our country and I naively thought he would be fine to go on that memorial."
Mr Woodland was aged 32 and training off Saunton Sands, North Devon, when a rigid inflatable boat capsized and he became trapped underneath.
He had served in Afghanistan and was due to return there for a second tour when he died.
"When I had that knock at the door and they told me, I just couldn't understand how it could happen, how I would ever go on with my life," Ms Woodland said.
"I don't want people to ever forget him.
"I have done this as a legacy for him and his family so he's always remembered."
Money also came from charity and quiz nights, family, friends, a crowdfunding appeal and money from the SBS Association.
"It's not just for Paul, it's for all the fallen soldiers, it's for their families as well," Ms Woodland added.
The memorial, topped with a bronze globe - the symbol of the Royal Marines, was created by Swansea sculptor Martin Williams.
He said he was honoured to be asked to create the memorial.
"I was very aware of how she felt about what she was trying to create," he said.
"I just wanted to fulfil her ambitions as much as possible."
Since Mr Woodland's death, his partner has also set up drop-in centres in Vale of Glamorgan and Colwyn Bay in his memory, where veterans can meet for support, friendship and advice.
Willie McAlorum served in the RAF as an aircraft engineer and visits the Vale of Glamorgan drop-in centre, called Woody's Lodge.
"What Sian has done is show real fortitude. She's strong, resilient and tough, a soldier in her own right, she's our heroine," he said.