Iraqi Angel

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On Feb. 24, 1991 a truck filled with a dozen marines in an endless convoy for Kuwait City stopped when I yelled, “Hey look a body!” The paralyzed figure of an Iraqi soldier lay 30 feet from the incinerated jeep he was blown from. His knees were bent, eyes and mouth open, and his intestines poured out from under his shirt. We were both covered with specks of oil from the fires nearby, and soaked by the rains that made me dirty and miserable, yet washed his face clean. Before he died he waved his arms, like the way kids make snow angels. He made wings in the sand. My angel in the desert.

I never forgot him, or the grimaced faces of the living ones missing arms and legs, or the piles of dead men at the Highway of Death. Years ago I began welding a sculpture of him. I began with an old uniform, fiberglass resin, and plaster to make molds. I lined the molds with 70,000 steel ball bearings. In a desert war only sand, flesh and steel move together, in varied directions and velocities. It weighs roughly 300 lbs, but comes in two pieces, much like I found him.

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