Helena artist Lyle Schwabauer spent time looking at old photos of Vietnam and reading letters from soldiers before naming his latest sculpture.
“The thing that came to me was ‘No Solider Left Behind,’” he said from Mountain Sage Gallery Thursday morning.
While he has worked on military-themed sculptures before, this one already has a home in Sidney, where Schwabauer grew up and went to high school.
“We had our 50th class reunion and then I got a call from my classmates,” he said. “They said, ‘We want to do a Vietnam memorial, would you come up with something?’”
It took about a year between clay and castings, but the bronze now sits prominently in the gallery. The piece depicts a wounded and bandaged soldier being helped through rice paddies by two other soldiers. One of the helping soldiers is African-American and the other Native American, as it is important to Schwabauer from a historical perspective to recognize tribal members’ high participation in the military, particularly from Montana.
Once a walnut base is completed, it will be transported to Sidney for display in the MonDak Heritage Center, hopefully by Memorial Day, and then to a permanent home in a local bank.