Gig Harbor artist Mardie Rees was recently recognized for her artistic contribution to the portrayal of the history of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Rees was awarded the Colonel John W. Thomason, Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for her sculpture “Soul of the Forward & Faithful,” which portrays U.S. Marine Raiders in the Pacific jungles during World War II.
The bronze sculpture is of a Navajo code talker, a Browning Automatic Rifleman and a wardog handler and his German shepherd.
Rees, a Gig Harbor artist and founder of Apprentice Academy, was commissioned by the World War II Marine Raider Foundation and was specifically contacted by Charles Meacham Sr., a board member and World War II Marine Raider veteran living in Gig Harbor.
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They were interested in creating a sculpture that would tell the story of the Marine World War II Raiders. They’re basically the grandfathers of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command.
“(Meacham) is one of the few Raiders who are alive today,” Rees said. “It was several years in the making to get (the sculpture) to happen.”
Rees said that Meacham worked on the project for more than five years before she was commissioned.
“They were interested in creating a sculpture that would tell the story of the Marine World War II Raiders,” she said. “They’re basically the grandfathers of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command.”
Working with live models dressed in historical outfits borrowed from a collector, the sculpture took two years for Rees to complete, and in 2014 was entrusted to the National Museum of the Marine Corps and Heritage Center.
It was just a phenomenal experience. I worked with former Marines to create the sculpture.
Rees applied for the award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation because her piece fit the description of the visual artwork the Foundation was looking for, she said.
The 35th annual awards dinner was held April 23 at the National Museum of Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.
The current sculpture measures about 4 feet by 3 feet in order to fit inside the museum, but was designed with the intent to be a monument-sized piece someday.
“It was just a phenomenal experience,” she said. “I worked with former Marines to create the sculpture.”