My Favorite Guard Memory

Brian was featured in Guard Experience’s online magazine GX’s My Favorite Guard Memory column. Here’s Brian’s favorite Guard memory:

I remember the time I deployed to Shindand Air Base in western Afghanistan with the 2/108th Infantry Battalion, 27th Brigade. My job was to help the public affairs officer, Lieutenant Jason Uhlig, my best friend, in creating artwork for a biweekly newsletter that would be distributed to all the Soldiers on base. During this time, I stumbled on a photo of Brigadier General Luigi Chiapperini, which is how I discovered that an Italian general was the NATO regional commander of Shindand Air Base. I was impressed to learn that there was a strong union between the United States and Italian militaries. I thought a personally hand-drawn portrait of an Italian leader would be a significant gift for the general and Italian army.

During our change of command ceremony, before demobilization, General Chiapperini made an appearance, and our battalion commander, Colonel Joseph Beuihler, presented him with the portrait as a parting gift. A mural I painted on a T-wall served as the setting in the background of the ceremony, and I also painted the artwork on the podium. After the ceremony, I spoke to the general, who shook my hand and told me how honored he was for the gift. Within the portrait, I pointed out that there was a small drawing of a shrimp hidden in his MultiCam uniform. It represented a joint operation between the U.S. and Italians called Operation Shrimps Net. In return for the gift, General Chiapperini presented me with a letter of appreciation for my artistic talent and dedication. That moment was one of the greatest honors of my life. It encouraged me to continue my artwork beyond Afghanistan and led to my starting a Veterans-helping-Veterans graphic design business with Lieutenant Uhlig called Iron Art.