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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
“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
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