In my home town of Woodland Park, we have a lot of soldiers. The Army’s Ft. Carson is 40 minutes down the pass and we hear often about another soldier from the base who’s not coming home from war.
“Fergy” was a Master Sergeant with the 10th Special Forces Group, a Green Beret. A friend introduced me to his wife and we began to talk about creating a place where Fergy would be remembered. I was invited to attend a ceremony at the 10th Group where they honored the fallen. Names were read and families recognized. At the center of the ceremony they had erected a battle cross; boots, rifle, beret, and dog tags standing straight and silent in their tribute. We talked about this image and she told me this was how she wanted to honor her husband.
Creating a military memorial is a huge honor and a huge responsibility. I learned 20 years earlier, with my first military sculpture, that the work and detail must be correct. But, more important than just creating an accurate sculpture, I have to tell the story well. I have to take cold, impersonal bronze and mold something that connects with the heart; deeper than mere accuracy in the detail.
So, I sculpted the battle cross as correctly as I could and placed it In the park, in the middle of town on top of a large piece of Pikes Peak granite.
But, his story is presented in the personal. He was serving in the desert when he died, so I created a helmet with desert goggles. I made molds and cast replicas of his dog tags.The 10th Special Forces Group guidon is sculpted so it drapes over the granite base. Military coins were added as if they’d been left there by friends. Fergy’s Master Sergeant stripes, his name patch and his service ribbons were modeled onto the banner.
The sobering truth is that this monument to Fergy will outlive us all. I have to tell his story well to assure that the future will know him. His grandchildren will someday stand here. If my effort was successful, they will see, and feel, and know his story.