'Resolute' warrior burns his mark during deployment
August 31, 2011
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Sitting on a Soldier's table is a light-colored piece of basswood on the verge of being emblazoned with a small spear beaming with fieriness. A modest amount of smoke, the aroma of ember and honey, dangles in the air inches from its source. Hours later, the small plaque of wood is a work of art representing valor, patriotism and the dedication of one deployed Soldier.
Staff Sgt. Omar Pagan, a battle operations Noncommissioned Officer with Task Force Resolute, 7th Sustainment Brigade, combines his gift for drawing and his passion to work with his hands, into an interest in Pyrography.
Getting into the art of Pyrography, the art of decorating wood with burning tools was an easy fit for Pagan. His interest in drawing evolved from his childhood. Growing up, he drew hundreds of pictures. His other forms of expression through his hands were stone necklaces, 3-D portraits made of paper, and even homemade gift baskets.
Pagan, who is originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, started his development in Pyrography by watching videos online and reading books on the topic. It was more of an accident how he got started into the art as he was engrossed in another pastime, hand engraving.
"I started engraving in 2008, but after coming across a Pyrography magazine at a store, I was immediately fascinated by it," he said.
For the next two years he studied Pyrography. Even with his pending deployment to Afghanistan in February, he still wanted to continue with his pastime. Before he deployed from Virginia he purchased books and equipment and started drawing letters and calligraphy by free-hand before moving to the drawing board per say, with wood burning. He did not start burning images on wood until after his arrival to KAF.
When Pagan is not working in the command information center he is perfecting his craft.
"Most of my free time here is spent learning about wood burning. I set up my station with a wood burning system, a hot wire tool and metal tips called nibs," said Staff Sgt. Pagan. "I have plenty of ideas in my head with ample time to do them."
The passion for his work is easily evident when he talks about it.
"I find real enjoyment in it. If I have an image, or thought, I get lost in my work," said Pagan. "Next thing you know, four hours later I am finished with a project. It's really engaging."
Captain Tez Roberson, a battle captain for the operations section of TF-Resolute was impressed by Pagan's work.
"He is very talented and creative. I saw some of his work and thought it was great," said Capt. Roberson. "It is so good, that I wanted one."
In a part of the world where his mission is to report significant activities in and around Southern Afghanistan, having an outlet to look forward to when his shift is over can be a huge relief. Pyrography is not a hobby for Staff Sgt. Pagan, but a skill that he hopes to master. Like Roberson, many agree that if Pagan's wood burning gets better, it can take him a long way.