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Deployed Artists Craft Memories, Friendships
by Army Staff Sgt. John Zumer - December 2, 2011

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KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan (11/29/2011) —Coping with the rigors of deployment can be difficult even under ideal circumstances, not to mention the additional challenges that surface from unexpected events.

U.S. Army Capt. Dree Boggs, the support transportation officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, holds her drawing, “Hold On,” at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Nov. 22, 2011. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. John Zumer
U.S. Army Capt. Dree Boggs, the support transportation officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, holds her drawing, “Hold On,” at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Nov. 22, 2011. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. John Zumer

U.S. Army Maj. Michael Spikes (left), of Spring, Texas, chaplain with the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, stands with U.S. Army Spc. Carlton Fischer, a machinist and welder, in the chapel at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Nov. 6, 2011. Fischer, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., turned his love of design and knowledge of metalwork into manufacturing the cross. Photo by U.S. Army Maj. Travis Dettmer, TF Duke PAO
U.S. Army Maj. Michael Spikes (left), of Spring, Texas, chaplain with the 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, stands with U.S. Army Spc. Carlton Fischer, a machinist and welder, in the chapel at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Nov. 6, 2011. Fischer, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., turned his love of design and knowledge of metalwork into manufacturing the cross. Photo by U.S. Army Maj. Travis Dettmer, TF Duke PAO

 Two U.S. Army soldiers, however, have discovered that using their creative talents for personal and unit betterment has been a prime example of art imitating life.

U.S. Army Spc. Carlton Fischer, a machinist and welder from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, takes pride in his creations, but it's the people he produces works for that have always motivated him the most.

“I really like making people happy with the stuff I create,” said Fischer, who has used his deployment to complete many iron and steel projects.

Completed works include a sign at the installation's combat support hospital, a new cross for the chapel interior and a decorative Big Red One near his unit's flagpole.

Before entering military service, Fischer used his talents to create miniatures and animated characters on big screen Hollywood releases like Nightmare before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach, and Mosquito. Having been in the Army now for three years while performing a job he enjoys, Fischer said his biggest joy is in taking an idea from the drawing board and turning it into reality.

Unlike Fischer who has used the entire deployment to practice his craft, U.S. U.S. Army Capt. Dree Boggs, the support transportation officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 201st BSB, resumed her sketch drawings as a way of coping with a harrowing event.

A recent rocket attack on the unit's headquarters damaged a large portion of the building, sending shrapnel everywhere but fortunately leaving no serious injuries

“I really hadn't worked much on my drawings before the attack. It's definitely the most traumatic
thing that's happened to me on this deployment,” said Boggs, a native of Bossier City, La.

Her work “Hold On”, inspired by the attack, is an expression of the emotions she felt and how the soldiers in her section take care of each other. Vine and compressed charcoals were used for the drawing, which took almost 46 hours to complete, said Boggs.

With a bachelor of fine arts degree in studio art and design from Louisiana Tech University, she likes to use measurement and comparison ratios in her drawings, obtained through photos of her subjects taken after receiving her inspiration.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jorge Ruiz Chang and U.S. Army Spc. Gabrielle Shriner, who suffered a concussion from the rocket attack, stood as subjects for her piece.

After the attack, Boggs and Ruiz Chang escorted Shriner to Forward Operating Base Salerno's combat support hospital for treatment, prompting a follow-up visit to the traumatic brain injury clinic. It was between those two locations that Shriner was unable to continue under her own power. Ruiz Chang reached to carry her the rest of the way, providing the inspiration for Boggs' drawing.

The original drawing is promised to Ruiz Chang, while Boggs plans to keep a scanned copy for herself.

Boggs says the incident has motivated her to continue her drawings, possibly focusing on a series of hands. The therapeutic effects drawing offers is further incentive to continue honing the skills she had put on the back burner.

“After the attack I would get antsy. It felt really good to work on something that meant this much to me,” said Boggs.

Their labors of love may have gone unnoticed if not for the discerning eye of U.S. Army Maj. Michael Spikes, the unit's chaplain from Spring, Texas. He thinks the ultimate value of having such talented personnel like Fischer and Boggs lies not in their completed works, but in the inspiration and lessons for coping with a deployment they provide for others.

“A soldier can vent his or her frustrations and stress and turn it into a tangible thing of beauty,” he said. “We all have a spark of creativity in us, sometimes it just needs to be fanned a little in order to produce a source of light and warmth.”

That warmth produced, said Fischer, often leaves benefits and good feelings beyond those felt by the artist, as with his cross for the chapel.

“It's something for the next unit to enjoy as well. I just feel very lucky to be in a shop that allows me to do this,” he said.

By Army Staff Sgt. John Zumer
Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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