Artist Makes Lasting Impressions
(February 3, 2011)
Army Pfc. Luke I. Schlueter cracks a smile at Observation Post Mustang in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province, Jan. 26, 2011.
KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Feb. 1, 2011 – The
soldier's ink-stained, dirt-caked hands grasped
his body armor and helmet as he prepared to
depart the dimly lit plywood building on top of
Observation Post Mustang.
the crisp, whipping wind on the 6,500-foot
mountain, Army Pfc. Luke I. Schlueter pulls on
his gloves and adjusts his fleece jacket before
settling down to look through various sets of
binoculars and scopes at the draws, spurs and
ridges surrounding the small observation post.
For the last nine months in eastern
Afghanistan, pulling guard duty has been
Schlueter's job as a cavalry scout assigned to
Troop C, 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment,
Task Force Bandit, of the 101st Airborne
Division's 1st Brigade
“I do my job because it's my
job, but my hobby is art,” Schlueter said.
“Taking a blank piece of paper and making
something out of it is just a way of reminding
me why I'm here and what's going on.”
Since age 6 growing up in Okinawa, Japan,
Schlueter employed art as a way to express
himself. His mother bought him coloring books,
but he wouldn't color in them. Instead, he'd
trace the outlines.
While living at the
top of Afghanistan, he has plenty of outlines to
“You've got all these
mountains,” he said. “Especially the clouds and
everything that are here, it's crazy. Where I'm
from in Nebraska, it's all flat. I mean, you get
to see clouds and stuff, but not like it ‘is
here.' It's ... it's ... it's ridiculous.”
Schlueter, from Bellevue, Neb., draws anything
–- mountains, people, animals, surrealistic
landscapes, or whatever his buddies ask of him.
Army Pfc. Luke I. Schlueter finishes a unit logo in the tactical operations center of Observation Post Mustang in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar province, Jan. 28, 2011.
“When people see something they want me to draw and get
something off their mind, that's usually when I come into
play,” Schlueter said. “They say, ‘Hey Schlueter, draw
this,' and it gives them a laugh.”|
his older cousin and sister into the Army, he has put his
talents to use at some odd times.
“I was in basic
training, and the night before you get out -- when
everybody's cleaning and everything -- I got told to paint
the barracks –- all three floors,” Schlueter said. “I
painted everything. And then I painted the squadron rock,
which the squadron sergeant major gave me a coin for,
because he was really impressed with it.”
tactical operations center at Observation Post Mustang,
Schlueter has been working on another piece of art. For the
past few days, he has been hunkered close to a large eagle
he's drawing around his unit's crest. Past unit emblems
adorn the walls, providing a respite from the utilitarian
maps, charts and wires.
“It's nice to work on a piece
that's going to be around for a while,” Schlueter said. His
squadron's blue and red logo covers nearly half of a wall.
He added that soldiers' esprit de corps at their hilltop
living quarters may benefit from his efforts to bring a
little more color to Army green.
“I've been told the
reason why Wal-Mart's blue is because it helps people who
are shopping be more relaxed. So yeah, I guess it makes
people have better morale,” he said with a laugh.
Article and photos by Army SSgt. Mark Burrell|
Combined Joint Task Force 101
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