By Sgt. Mark MirandaOctober 27, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS McCHORD, Wash. -- Soldiers of the 864th Engineer Battalion gathered to unveil a painting honoring the unit in a ceremony Oct. 24 near its headquarters building.
Titled "Clear -- Hold -- Build," the work by artist Patrick Haskett features combat engineers standing watch while their fellow Soldiers build a new structure.
"There's always room for capturing the essence of Soldiering through the beauty and age-old method of painting. This war has been an inspiration for a lot of artists to tell the Soldier's story, and one story that I realized had not been told was that of the Army combat construction engineer," said Col. Mike Brobeck, commander of the 555th Engineer Brigade.
Some of the proceeds from sales of the print copies will go toward the 555th Eng. Bde. Able Soldier and Family Fund. The fund provides goods and services for deployed Soldiers, and the families of Soldiers killed or wounded in action.
After the unveiling, Soldiers lined up to have their art print copies personalized, numbered and signed by Haskett.
"Over the 12 months I was deployed, we worked with a lot of the Hesco barrier blast walls and we constructed a lot of motor pools. When I look at it [the painting], I think of projects I was involved in as a heavy equipment operator. The one in the print looks a lot like one of the checkpoints that we built in Iraq," said Spc. Alberto Lugo, a horizontal construction engineer assigned to the 617th Eng. Company.
Haskett's paintings include work dedicated to the Old Guard, 1st Special Forces Group, 8th Army and the U.S. Naval Institute. His paintings have featured other subjects of the engineer regiment with a project for the 14th Eng. Bn. and a painting dedicated to Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith of the 11th Eng. Bn.
"I was approached by Col. (Mike) Brobeck, and he told me that he had Soldiers who would fight their way into an area, build a combat outpost and then fight their way out of these hostile zones. It was such a compelling story," said Haskett.
The painting went through four conceptual drafts and took five months to complete.
"The subject of bravery is very near and dear to me," said Haskett, who's "Tikrit Blast" painting is on display at the Pentagon, in the offices of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and is also a tribute to combat engineers.
Haskett joined the Army after high school and served as an official Army artist in Korea from 1968-69. In addition to his duties as an artist, he served on a quick reaction force during a hostile period in Korea known as the "silent war." Haskett recalled those years involved intense demilitarized zone firefights and insurgencies into South Korea.
Haskett created numerous safety posters, and art for general officers -- often times maps that would be kept in secure areas.
"A lot of people say my experience as an enlisted Soldier comes through in my work. I put in small elements and details that people spot…magazines taped together, the way a Soldier is shown holding his weapon. I feel I have a reputation to uphold for accuracy, so I try to maintain that," said Haskett.