USA — Restoration Complete for Vietnam War Memorial Statue

WASHINGTON — The new­ly refur­bished Three Ser­vice­men Stat­ue at the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al was unveiled today after six weeks of restora­tion.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
Left to right: Retired Army Brig. Gen. George Price; John Piltzeck­er, Nation­al Mall and Memo­r­i­al Parks super­in­ten­dent; Lindy Hart, wid­ow of sculp­tor Fred­er­ick Hart; and Jan Scrug­gs, Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund founder and pres­i­dent, unveil the Three Ser­vice­men Stat­ue dur­ing a reded­i­ca­tion cer­e­mo­ny at the Nation­al Mall in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., July 8, 2010. The stat­ue, which orig­i­nal­ly was unveiled in 1984, under­went six weeks of restora­tion to repair dam­age and restore the orig­i­nal pati­na.
DoD pho­to by Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Car­den
Click to enlarge

“This is a very note­wor­thy event,” said Jan Scrug­gs, founder and pres­i­dent of the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund. “It’s very note­wor­thy for the his­to­ry of the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al, [and] it’s real­ly a notable event for our nation’s Mall and the main­te­nance and preser­va­tion of our nation’s Mall.”

The stat­ue was cre­at­ed by sculp­tor Fred­er­ick Hart. Near­ly 26 years after its orig­i­nal unveil­ing in 1984, weath­er dam­age and age had tak­en a toll on the stat­ue. Parts of the uni­forms, weapons, hands and noses of the stat­ue sus­tained some cor­ro­sion and dete­ri­o­ra­tion.

The restora­tion was done in place, and it repaired oxi­da­tion dam­age and added a new pati­na coat­ing and wax. Dur­ing restora­tion, the stat­ue was pro­tect­ed by a wood­en enclo­sure with three sev­en-foot-tall win­dows that allowed tourists to view progress.

“Almost 26 years lat­er, we’re here to reded­i­cate the stat­ue and pledge our con­tin­ued care,” said Scrug­gs, a Viet­nam War vet­er­an.

The stat­ue sits on the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al site here, about 200 feet away from and fac­ing the Viet­nam War Memo­r­i­al Wall. The stat­ue depicts three ser­vice­mem­bers – one His­pan­ic, one black and one white — and rep­re­sents the more than 58,000 fall­en ser­vice­mem­bers memo­ri­al­ized on the wall, Scrug­gs said.

“There’s a sense of artis­tic and dynam­ic ten­sion as the ser­vice­men gaze at the sea of names on the wall,” Scrug­gs said. “Over the years, peo­ple have not­ed that it seems almost as if the ser­vice­men are look­ing to see if their own names or the names of their friends are on the wall.”

Hart’s wid­ow, Lindy, was rec­og­nized at the cer­e­mo­ny for her husband’s work. Hart was the only per­son “who had the extra­or­di­nary tal­ent we were look­ing for and who would design the stat­ue in such a way as to com­ple­ment the memo­r­i­al,” Scrug­gs said.

Hart often is referred to in the artis­tic com­mu­ni­ty as America’s Michelan­ge­lo, Scrug­gs said, not­ing his oth­er famous work, the Cre­ation sculp­tures on the west façade of the Wash­ing­ton Nation­al Cathe­dral.

“It is real­ly not an exag­ger­a­tion to refer to him in that man­ner,” Scrug­gs said. “He was real­ly that good, … as good as any of the mas­ters in sculp­ture through­out the his­to­ry of the world.”

One of Hart’s mod­els for the Three Ser­vice­men Stat­ue, William Smith, 50, of Vir­ginia, was present and rec­og­nized at the cer­e­mo­ny.

Smith’s like­ness was cap­tured in the Cuban-Amer­i­can ser­vice­mem­ber on the right side of the stat­ue, car­ry­ing a .60-cal­iber machine gun over his shoul­der. Smith was the only mod­el who did­n’t serve in the mil­i­tary. The oth­er two were mem­bers of the Marine Corps Hon­or Guard and, at the time, were sta­tioned at Hen­der­son Hall Marine Bar­racks in Arling­ton, Va.

Although Smith nev­er served, he said, he’s hon­ored that his like­ness helps to rep­re­sent “some of the great­est Amer­i­cans to ever serve.”

“It’s amaz­ing to just be a part of this,” Smith said. “Being a part of this just fills my soul. It makes me a much bet­ter Amer­i­can and gives my pride in my coun­try.”

Retired Army Brig. Gen. George Price, an advo­cate for the statue’s cre­ation in the ear­ly 1980s, and John Piltzeck­er, Nation­al Mall and Memo­r­i­al Parks super­in­ten­dent, also attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny.

“The Nation­al Park Ser­vice is cer­tain­ly pleased that the Three Ser­vice­men Stat­ue has been restored to reflect the artist’s intent,” Piltzeck­er said. “We will con­tin­ue to work with our part­ner, the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund, to main­tain the stat­ue for all to enjoy.”

The restora­tion project cost about $25,000. The funds were raised by a Nation­al Park Ser­vice share grant and an in-home fundrais­er by Lindy Hart. Indi­vid­ual con­tri­bu­tions also were made. New Arts Foundry of Bal­ti­more did the restora­tion work.

The project is part of a main­te­nance and restora­tion pro­gram by the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Memo­r­i­al Fund to assist the Nation­al Park Ser­vice in site upkeep.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)