Thursday, March 22, 2007


Sergeant Jeremiah Workman and Colonel John W. Ripley

I spent the better part of yesterday in the limelight doing a painting demonstration at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in the Global War on Terrorism Gallery. Dozens of visitors stopped, asked questions, oo'd and ah'd and generally fed my already over-stuffed ego.

The real treat for me however was seeing my old boss, Colonel John W. Ripley USMC (retired). Colonel Ripley, following his retirement from active military service, took on the helm of the Marine Corps History and Museum Division and sheparded us through the process that resulted in the National Museum of the Marine Corps becoming a steel and concrete reality.

He was waiting to take out to lunch one of the Marines who works at the museum, Sergeant Jeremiah Workman. What do these two stellar Marines share in common? They're both recipients of the Navy Cross, an award second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor. Amongst Marines the Navy Cross is virtually equal to the MOH. This is especially true in Colonel Ripley's case. On Easter Morning 1972 then Captain Ripley almost singlehandedly stopped the entire North Vietnamese Army dead in its tracks by blowing up the Bridge at Dong Ha. The phrase "Ripley at the bridge" is as well known to Marines as the Chosin Reservoir and the Iwo Jima flag raising.

These two gentlemen were gracious enough to let me photograph them. One of the great joys of being a Marine is experiencing the constancy of the Corps that transcends time and place, and having the opportunity to stand momentarily in the shadow of giants such as these two men. It is a truism that people of this calibre are humble even to the point of embarrassment over the fuss made with regards to their heroics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Inspiration

Captain Ross Parrish USMC-Commanding Officer F/2/1

Captain Phillip Ash USMC-Commanding Officer K/3/7

I finally tracked down pictures of the two captains who served as the inspiration for "The Skipper". I served with Captain Ross Parrish's company, Fox 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment both in Operation Steel Curtain, and in Hit for the December 15th general election and its lead up. Captain Phillip Ash is the CO of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and I spent time with his Marines in Ramadi. These guys are the marrow of this nation.

The plasticine bust was handed over to the Wegner Foundry here in Fredericksburg this past Friday. In about a month the piece will be cast, after an rather involved process of creating a mold, working up the wax version that comes from the mold, and the final "lost wax" method of pouring a bronze bust. Once the bronze piece is created an additional process takes place creating the final patina. Sculpture is very collaborative. I'm on to my next piece.

Another reason I've been off-line this past month is due to having fallen in love. Yes, the old Gunner is head over heals in LOVE. Over Christmas my daughter and Mom were giving me a hard time about my I signed up for with the moniker of Jarheadmike. In very short order I met my sweetie, GIJanis, a Sergeant First Class in the US Army Reserve who spent 18 months in Iraq. She's got a blog of her own called American Commentary.