Paratrooper sculpture 'hallmark' of Airborne School
August 22, 2012
FORT BENNING, Ga. (Aug. 22, 2012) -- Passersby on Edwards Street may notice something new on the Fort Benning landscape. An abstract metal sculpture of a paratrooper with an open parachute was installed this summer on Eubanks Field.
The sculpture originated with an idea from Sgt. 1st Class Paul Hart, Tower Branch chief, who wanted a paratrooper -- a structure measuring 4 to 5 feet tall -- outside his office to "enhance the branch."
Hart shared his idea with the welders in the maintenance department of 1st Battalion (Airborne), 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and one of them, retired Chief Petty Officer Rick William Allen, fashioned the artwork which now decks the Airborne field.
"When I walked in there a week and a half later, it was 16 feet tall and weighed 600 pounds," Hart said.
That was about three months ago.
Sgt. 1st Class Allen William Medley, who supervised the project, said the piece ended up so large because of the individual parts used.
"The pulley sheave for the head is one of the pulleys off of the 250-foot tower," said the maintenance chief. "The arms and the legs are PT platforms where an instructor would stand and give his presentation or talk to his class. The center of it is a light pole off of Ground Branch's structure that got cut down many years ago. The risers for that are pipes off one of our old vehicles that got turned in."
The rest is scrap metal.
Creating the framework from steel, which will rust quickly, gives it an aged look to help the sculpture blend with its historic surroundings, Hart said.
Its location was strategic as well, he said, particularly for tourists and family members towing cameras.
"If you want to take a picture during Tower Week, this is the place to do it," the NCO said. "You can get people coming off the 250-foot free tower, people coming out of the 34-foot tower, plus you get the Flying Boxcar -- the C-119 over there by the Airborne Walk -- all in the same picture."
When the new barracks are completed in 2015, they'll also be part of the panorama located behind the paratrooper.
Altogether, the sculpture is a "hallmark" of the Airborne School, Hart said.
"We take a raw recruit -- an Airman, a Marine, a Sailor or a Soldier, and we turn him into this: a combat multiplier for his unit," he said. "We give him the basic skills; we teach him how to don a parachute, safely exit out of an aircraft and land safely so he can continue on his mission."
Although the Jumper of Eubanks Field and similar names have been suggested, the statue doesn't have a title yet. Hart said the unit may add a memorial or quote at the base of the sculpture, but for now both the Soldiers in the battalion and visitors who photograph it during graduations seem to be happy with the creation.
For those who haven't seen it, Hart invites them to swing by. There's a parking lot off Edwards Street, between buildings 1256 and 1263 and near the intersection of Marchant Street, that is just steps away from the paratrooper.