78° F Saturday, June 24, 2017

By Terry Hagerty

Looking at Bill McGlaun’s sculpture-in-progress, one can almost hear the famous words from the 1960s song, “Ballad of the Green Berets.”

The opening verse goes, “Fighting soldiers from the sky, Fearless men who jump and die, Men who mean just what they say, The brave men of the Green Beret.” The song pays homage to the U.S. Special Forces – more widely known as The Green Berets – a group that became famous for their daring counter-insurgency operations during the Vietnam War,

McGlaun said he was approached last year about sculpting a statue by a group of former Green Berets from St. Martin Parish in Louisiana after a referral from a Houston friend.

But he wasn’t real familiar about their history or exploits.

“I didn’t know much about the Green Berets other than seeing John Wayne in that movie,” McGlaun said of the 1968 film, “The Green Berets.” “And I had also heard that song about the fighting men of the Green Berets. What I’ve known about them since is that I don’t want any of them particularly angry at me!”

McGlaun is finishing up the impressive statue in his downtown studio.

“The Green Beret himself is about 5’9” tall,” McGlaun said. “But with a four-foot base, he’ll be about 10 to 11 feet in total height.”

McGlaun said he came up with the firm-looking face of the Green Beret, who cradles an M-16 rifle in his right hand, by studying photos of the Louisiana veterans when they served.

“They sent me a bunch of photos of themselves and they are all lean and hungry looking, and at war,” McGlaun said.

McGlaun said he is honored to be doing the statue and shared the words that will be part of the dedication plaque for the art piece: “This monument is dedicated to those brave men who have, are now, and will in the future be members of the U.S. Special Operations Command.”

Meanwhile, McGlaun continues work on his “Angel” sculpture for the Smithville Veterans Memorial Park.

“I’m finishing up the last wing of the angel,” McGlaun said of the sculpture that will be the centerpiece art for the park that will be dedicated on Memorial Day, May 27.

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