Marine Raider Sculpture

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The San Diego Air & Space Museum presents a limited opportunity September 30th, 9am-10am to see the premiere unveiling of life-like bronze statue, "Soul of the Forward and Faithful," by nationally recognized sculptor Mardie Rees, before it travels to its home at the National Museum of the Marine Corpsin Quantico, VA. The statue honors the U.S. Marine Raiders, the first elite force created to serve in the Pacific Theater of WWII. The sculpture is on view now through October 30th.

So iconic were the Marine Raiders that on August 6, 2014, as part of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC)'s change of command ceremony, held in Sneads Ferry, N.C., Gen. Jim Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, announced that all units within the parent command would change their names from Marine Special Operations Regiment or Battalion to Marine Raider Regiment, Marine Raider Battalion, and so forth.

The Raiders originated the Marines' appropriation of the idea of "Gung-ho," the spirit of cooperation and mutual support the sculpture depicts. They were constantly deployed considerably "forward" of the main body of Marines in combat, and as such pioneered insertion and extraction methods that are still in use by special operations units today.

"I knew in sculpting this piece that all the gear had to be historically accurate," Rees said, "from the sight on the Browning Automatic Rifle right down to the laces on the boots. Together with the curator for the National Museum of the Marine Corps and collectors across the U.S., we determined the historically appropriate gear."

Rees describes the scene: "Cast in bronze, the memorial captures a brief moment in November 1943, which hangs perilously in the midst of an infiltration mission. The unit is surrounded by the humid, oppressive jungle and uneven terrain of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. We see a Marine Raider holding a Browning Automatic Rifle, a War Dog Handler with his German Shepherd and a Navajo Code Talker relaying intelligence. They are each strong and alert, but the keen viewer will also sense the surrounding danger, the vulnerability of the code talker, and the need to protect him at all costs. The war dog is in mid-stride with one paw off the ground and the other foot deep in mud, anxious in seeking the enemy. In the background, four additional Raiders on patrol creep through the dense jungle, armed with a breadth of weaponry and gear.”

Interviews and extensive research went into the final presentation, which is filled with the emotions of the soldiers depicted. To lend as much depth and authenticity as possible, even the models used had combat experience. The men who modeled for the BAR Man and Dog Handler were former Marines who each served two tours in Iraq. The man who modeled for the Code Talker was from the Navajo Nation. "He even spoke and sang in Navajo while I was sculpting," Rees said. Even the German Shepherd was sculpted from life. "His name is Finn, and I have a pound of his hair in my studio."

"It has been a great honor to sculpt a work that by its very nature is a World War II Memorial," Rees said at the formal unveiling in Tacoma, WA, July 13th. "This memorial is dedicated to our fathers, uncles, and grandfathers who served in WWII, to their bravery, their courage, their resolve and strength."

About the Artist A sculptor from Gig Harbor, WA, Rees uses handcrafted wooden tools to shape clay that will be cast in bronze. Her work explores fundamentally human themes such as womanhood, faith, youth, struggle and hope. In 2013, Rees received an award for Exceptional Merit from the Portrait Society of America International Competition & Exhibition. From the same organization she received a First Honor award in 2010. She was a finalist in sculpture from the Art Renewal Center’s International Salon Competition in 2014, 2013 and 2010. Rees was a Gold Medal of Honor winner in 2010 from the Allied Artists of America. A full list of her awards to date, as well as more about the artist and her other sculptures, can be found at her website,

"Soul of the Forward and Faithful" will be on display at San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park through October 26th. Admission is: Adults (12 and over)$18.00, Senior/Student/Retired Military w/ ID:, $15.00, Youth (3-11 years)$9, Hours: Mon-Sunday 10am-4:30pm

Sculpture Unveiling Ceremony, Tuesday, September 30th at 9am, morning refreshments will be served prior to the ceremony. The artist will speak a few moments about the process before the sculpture is unveiled by WWII Raiders. RSVP to

For more information, see

Or or call the San Diego Air & Space Museum: 619-234-8291

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San Diego Air & Space Museum

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