REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama - The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command has about 2,000 Soldiers worldwide who mostly wield a keyboard rather than a weapon in support of the command's space and missile defense missions, but one such Soldier is also wielding a paintbrush to improve the morale of his unit and their focus on the mission.Sgt. 1st Class Damien Cavazos, detachment sergeant, Detachment B, 1st Space Company, recently finished painting the retaining wall surrounding the unit with the unit's, 1st Space Battalion's and 1st Space Brigade's emblems."The old detachment sergeant knew that I was a self-taught artist and told the commander," Cavazos said. "After that, I was asked if I would be willing to take on the task."Cavazos, a Texas native who joined the Army in 2007, began his first tour at a Joint Tactical Ground Station at the company's Qatar detachment in June 2019. Before joining the Army, he served in law enforcement, but he has always used art as a way of relaxing."I like to draw a lot during my own time. I have doodled or drawn since I was in kindergarten," Cavazos said. "I have never taken any courses or classes other than those required in high school."To complete the emblems accurately and to scale, Cavazos said that he projected them onto the wall and others helped him trace the outlines.
"I wanted to cut corners to complete the project faster," Cavazos said. "This also allowed for the Soldiers to help with the tracing."Helping Cavazos with the project were Sgt. 1st Class Israel Gonzales, Staff Sgt. Elisha Topete, Staff Sgt. Eric Schreiber and Pfc. Dalton Leach, although Cavazos did most of the painting himself."Being busy with normal operations, school and daily routines, the project took more than two months to complete," Cavazos said. "Then, of course, I wasn't satisfied, which is just part of creating art."During his military career, Cavazos has contributed to a number of units and created artwork for his peers and leaders, leaving his mark everywhere he has been stationed or deployed."I have painted all the retaining walls for every unit I have been deployed with and numerous other projects for various command sergeants major," Cavazos said. "My very first military artwork was a portrait of one of my drill sergeants in Basic Combat Training, and in Advanced Individual Training I painted a wall mural for my battery."Cavazos said he enjoys returning to places where he has left his artwork while in the Army."One situation that sticks out the most for me would be the retaining walls and a gator that I saw in Iraq nearly three years after I painted them," Cavazos said. "I look at my artwork as a unique way that I can leave footprints for future generations of Soldiers to see."