Sculpture Commemorates 1st Cavalry Division in Iraq
By Sgt. Christina Rockhill, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 14, 2004 "Securing the Future," the name of a new memorial being sculpted for Fort Hood, Texas, explains it all.
Lt. Col. Frank Caponio, 1st Cavalry Division personnel officer, said it was important to choose an idea for the sculpture that rolled up everything the division was doing in Iraq.
A model of the bronze statue being sculpted in Iraq by local
artists is based on an actual event. The statue is based on a photograph
featuring Sgt. Joshua Wood and then-Spc. Matthew Tuttle (now a sergeant),
members of the 545th Military Police Company, as they tried to render life-
saving aid to school children wounded by an insurgent mortar attack in April.
The bronze statue, when complete, will be the centerpiece of a new 1st Cavalry
Division memorial slated to be built adjacent to Cooper Field, the parade field
fronting the 1st Cavalry Division's headquarters at Fort Hood, Texas. Photo by
Spc. Marie Whitney, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
"We wanted to come up with a bronze monument that would capture the essence of what we're doing here in Task Force Baghdad for the Iraqi people," Caponio said. "We had many different pictures that we reviewed, and we finally found one that we thought captured everything we wanted. It showed soldiers who were protecting a child and at the same time were engaged in a combat operation."
The memorial will be a life-sized bronze sculpture, and will include the names of the division's fallen soldiers. The monument will be placed outside division headquarters at Fort Hood and should be finished by the time the troops head home, officials said.
The sculpture is based on a photo of a situation involving troops from the 545th Military Police Company. In April, the soldiers were escorting an explosive ordnance disposal team in Baghdad when a crowd of children gathered around them. The soldiers were ambushed, and five or six mortars hit where the children were standing. The soldiers had to jump into action, simultaneously helping the wounded and securing the area.
"I think that this scene captures that, in the sense that you see us and we're in mode of protecting. We're rendering aid to this child who has just been wounded by the mortar, and we're at the same time providing overwatch over the scene," Caponio said. "So what we're saying is, 'We're going to protect you now and get you on the road to peace for the future so you can take over.'"
Caponio said it was important to the division to include children in the memorial. "We wanted to use children, because we think that's the future," he said. "If we can affect the lives of these children right now, they'll be able to carry on democracy for the future."
The two soldiers in the picture chosen for the sculpture are Sgt. Matthew Tuttle and Sgt. Joshua Wood. Wood was the soldier providing security, while Tuttle, a medic, was helping an injured child. They said they are honored to represent the division's efforts in Iraq.
"It feels weird," Wood said. "There are probably people out there who deserve it more than I do." Wood, from Crosby, Texas, said that day he didn't even hesitate before running out into the crowd of children to help them.
"Most of the kids were my son's age, which I think was the main reason that I think I ran out into it," he said. "If they were my kids, I'd want somebody to help them."
Wood said the military is a family affair for him. His father is stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad with the 3rd Armored Corps, his little brother is stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division, and his sister is in the National Guard. He said both his brother and sister are scheduled to join him in Iraq this month. He hasn't told them he will be immortalized as part of the sculpture, however. "I think it'd be hard for them to understand, until they come here," he said.
Tuttle, on the other hand, has told his wife and family about the memorial and said they are excited to see it. Tuttle, a father of two, said he hasn't told his 5-year-old son about the statue yet. "I don't think he'd really understand anyway," the Fresno, Calif., native said. "When he's older, I'll probably take him back and tell him a little bit."
Both soldiers agree they'll probably come back to Fort Hood when they're older and show their children and grandchildren the memorial. "It's just humbling," Tuttle said. "It's weird whenever I think that they're actually going to make this and it's of me."
Steve Draper, 1st Cavalry Division museum curator, said one purpose of the memorial is to recognize all the soldiers of the "First Team."
"The memorial is dedicated to our soldiers who have fallen in Operation Iraqi Freedom II, but also to the soldiers who have survived and that have made up this wonderful division," Draper said. "We wanted to make a tribute to those soldiers."
Draper said he also hopes the memorial will show all the great things the division is doing in Iraq. "I think people have a different impression of what we're really doing here," he said. "I think that the press, unfortunately, doesn't show some of the great things that our division soldiers have done, and I think that this sculpture will provide them a sense of that," he said.
"I hope that it will give a sense of closure for those who have lost people here. I think it's important for them to understand that their sons and daughters did not die in vain here, but were here for a noble cause," Draper continued.
Caponio said the sculpture will be crafted in Baghdad by an Iraqi artist who asked to remain anonymous for his own safety.
The memorial will be an area where soldiers and family members can remember fallen loved ones, Caponio said. "This will be a place, in the future, where soldiers can come and take a few moments to remember their fallen comrades," he said. "So it's a place of quiet reflection. It's a place to remember your friends and remember their sacrifices that they made for this effort in OIF II, to set the Iraqis and the children on the road to success."
Caponio also said he hopes soldiers who served in OIF II will also be able to come and reflect upon their efforts in Baghdad. "I think, in the future, as soldiers go back and visit Fort Hood, they'll have this bronze monument to go reflect in front of and see again well into the rest of their lives," he said. "It will remind them of the sacrifices that their fellow soldiers made, as well as sacrifices they made when they were over in Iraq in OIF II with Task Force Baghdad."
(Army Sgt. Christina Rockhill is assigned to 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs.)