Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Project ECHO - Beneath Our Feet.

BENEATH OUR FEET (sketch) - Mark Smith

BENEATH OUR FEET - Mark Smith
Pen & Ink 81/2X10"

BENEATH OUR FEET: I developed an sketch into a project that became a line drawing. I started the sketch by visualizing three soldiers standing with the earth beneath them. The ground ripples from their essence aspebbles tossed in a pond. It arouses the presence of thought forms that rise in response. The creatures that live beneath the city feed from the hatred of all of the mortal dwellers above them. They reach with fiery hands at the surface causing explosive fire and death.

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Beneath Our Feet - by Jin Kong

book by Michael Yon
Our unit saw some heavy fighting when we were deployed to Mosul. There are books written and valor song for the men lost and souls wounded. I was a medic, so was Mark. We were fortunate because medics were rock stars and kept safe on patrols and combat operations. The joke was if you see the doc hurt, you knew we were all in trouble.

Throughout the year, we saw hundreds wounded. Our unit had collected so many Purple Hearts that we joked it was awarded as the enemies’ expert shooting badge. I recall some poor infantryman were wounded two or three or more times. It seems they would visit one day for a hole in their arm and another for a new one in their leg. When they finally got well enough to carry a combat load and travel out the wire again to face the danger, they were back at the aid station getting treated again.

Thankfully we only had one medic hurt during our deployment. Poor guy was ambushed while on foot patrol alongside of his infantry platoon. Before the insurgents had targeted mostly vehicles with their IEDs, but that was the first of IEDs we saw that was intended for foot patrols. Soldiers die regardless, but at least in an armored vehicle you were protected a bit better and the chances of mangled flesh less so frequent.

His name is Chris. He was a lucky son-of-a-gun. He had been walking just pass a parked vehicle when the IED took off from beneath his feet. The parked vehicle had protected his vital organs. He took a face full of shrapnel and his feet still bear enough metal to set off airport security these days.

I visited him in the hospital. I remember thanking his lucky stars and asking for mine to protect me just the same on my patrols on foot. Ever since that day, I took each step in the city of Mosul with a heavy heart. Each step could be my last and each heavier than the last.

From beneath our feet we saw weakness and strength. From beneath our feet we saw our fears and our grief. From beneath our feet, we are men no longer feeling invincible as a child. We grew older and all the less wiser, all from beneath our feet.

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