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Face of Defense: Sergeant Builds Morale Through Art

By Army Capt. Thomas Cieslak
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2009 – A Task Force Protector soldier here is building unit pride and esprit de corps by using his artistic skills to decorate an office inside a refurbished shipping container.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Sgt. Henry Harrell stands next to the artwork he painted on his brigade commander’s office door at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Nov. 20, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Garett Hernandez

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The many talents of Army Sgt. Henry Harrell, a counterinsurgency noncommissioned officer with Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 16th Military Police Brigade, are evident on the office door of Army Col. John F. Garrity, Task Force Protector commander.

“I have been working with art in general since I was 5. I just started drawing one day and never stopped,” Harrell said. “I took 10 art classes in high school, and turned down a full art scholarship to come into the Army.”

Adjacent shipping containers house the offices of the Task Force Protector commander, deputy commander, command sergeant major and the counterinsurgency section. Wooden walls and doors inside the containers were painted white years ago and remained plain until Garrity noticed Harrell’s talents and eye for color.

Harrell was sketching on a pad one day when Garrity saw his work and asked Harrell if he would be willing to paint a design on his door. Harrell agreed, and after receiving the necessary tools and paints from Garrity, went to work during his off-duty time to complete the door, arriving early and leaving late to complete the task.

Harrell proposed a design to Garrity, who approved it, and the sergeant completed a rough drawing on the door in pencil that he finalized with a permanent marker. Harrell then followed up with acrylic paints to color the design and to add shading and depth.

“It’s phenomenal. He’s very talented,” said Army Maj. Devon Blake, Harrell’s supervisor. “We’re excited he’s able to use his talents to contribute to the aesthetics of the command group.”

The door incorporates many elements of the 16th Military Police Brigade and the military police corps. Below the banner is the brigade commander’s rank insignia, with a wartime orientation of the eagle facing the arrows it holds. To the left of the eagle is the military police distinctive insignia, and on the opposite side is the 16th Military Police Brigade’s insignia.

An aircraft with paratroopers jumping from it placed behind the design symbolizes the brigade’s airborne status and preparedness to conduct airborne operations. An armored security vehicle and an up-armored Humvee are below the paratroopers, depicting the nature of combat operations conducted by military police paratroopers.

The foundation of the design includes the brigade’s motto -- “One of A Kind” -- and the brigade commander’s philosophy -- “Be a Professional” -- all above an image of the American flag.

(Army Capt. Thomas Cieslak serves with the Task Force Protector public affairs office.)

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