Two copies of “No Man Left Behind, ” a striking ten-foot-tall bronze monument created by the artist and sculptor John Phelp s, were dedicated today outside of the Wounded Warrior Battalion (East) Hope and Care Center on Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and at the front entrance of the Wounded Warrior Complex of the Wound Warrior Battalion (West) at Camp Pendleton in California.
The monument is based on “Hell Hole, ” an iconic photograph taken in Fallujah by Lucian Read in 2004. It depicts two Marine Corps Lance Corporals—Chris Marquez and Dane Shaffer—rescuing 1st Sgt Bradley Kasal. Phelps, a Vietnam veteran who received the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award at the 2009 National Convention, spent four four years working on the life-sized monument, which he completed on November. 1.
His son, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, was killed at age 19 in Iraq the same year the photograph was taken. The acclaimed HBO film Taking Chance is based on the journey that Marine Lt. Col. Mike Strobl underwent after he volunteered to escort Chance Phelps’s body from Dover Air Force Base to Phelps’ hometown in Wyoming. Strobl’s journal of that journey is the heart of the film.
Marines, John Phelps said after he finished the sculpture, understand that the monument “is honoring the sacrifice of all Marines especially the wounded.”
The sculptures were presented to the Marine Corps from the organization, Hope for the Warriors , a nonprofit that works in various ways to help post-September 11th service members and their families, including those who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty.
“I am honored to work with Hope For The Warriors in creating this monument, ” Phelps said. “I express myself through my art and this monument is a labor of love for me. Love for not just my son but for my growing Marine Corps family.”