Iraqi Tribute to U.S. Warfighters: Fallen Warriors

By Spc. Benjamin R. Kibbey

(Text from the Army News Service)

TIKRIT, Iraq (Army News Service, Jan. 6, 2004) -- When he was forced to fashion statues of Saddam Hussein on horseback, the Iraqi sculptor, Kalat, had no idea that someday he would melt them down to create a memorial for American Soldiers.

The two original statues -- which adorned a gate at the palace complex where 4th Infantry Divisionís headquarters group is located -- were removed with explosives in early July, said 1st Sgt. Mark Anderson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

The statues were cut into pieces by the 555th Engineer Group and shipped to Kalat who reshaped the chunks of bronze into a likeness of an American Soldier. A small girl comforts the Soldier as he mourns a fallen comrade.

The likeness was fashioned from a photograph of 1st Sgt. Glen Simpson, the former HHC first sergeant, who knelt for a picture that has become an immortal portrait in bronze, said Command Sgt. Maj. Chuck Fuss, 4th Inf. Div. command sergeant major.

Kalat spent several months sculpting and casting the statue.

ìThough he created the original statues of Saddam along with another artist, he created the 4th Infantry Division memorial through his own design,î Anderson said.

The sculpture is based on a scene many in Iraq have witnessed in one form or another.

A Soldier kneels before a memorial of boots, rifle and helmet - his forehead resting in the hollow of his hand. Behind and to his right stands a small Iraqi girl with her hand reaching out to touch his shoulder.

The statue evokes emotion. The girl was added to the statue to remind people of why the sacrifice was made, Fuss said.

ìItís about freedom for this country, but itís also about the children who will grow up in a free society,î he said.

Sitting in a former palace of Saddam now, the statue will soon be shuttled to Fort Hood, where it will become part of a larger memorial project at the 4th Inf. Div. museum.

Fuss and Anderson credited the Soldiersí generosity and Simpsonís vision for the lasting gift that, in the end, remembers fallen comrades.

ìI think this is the best way we can honor their families and their memories,î Fuss said.

ìReally thatís what itís for - a tribute to all the Soldiers over here who lost their lives,î Anderson said. ìThey will never be forgotten and they will always be heroes in our eyes.î

(Editorís note: Spc. Benjamin, R. Kibbey is a member of Task Force Ironhorse PAO.)