HADITHA DAM, Iraq -- From the beginning of time, paintings or murals were displayed to provoke emotions in people. Cavemen even used walls as a crude history book for future generations.
Today, artists are often contracted to create works of art to inspire the viewers. Inside the Haditha Dam, a Marine used its very walls as backdrops for motivating murals for the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, here supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“When I got picked to put a 3/1 painting by the chow hall, I took a lot of pride in doing it,” commented Alexandria, Va., native Sgt. Christopher J. Hennig, who drew and painted a mural on the seventh floor of the dam.
Hennig, a police sergeant for the battalion, continued to say, “We just wanted to show all the different units that were here.”
The motivating mural Hennig drew includes the battalion’s Brahma bull logo and all the logos from each unit attached to the battalion here.
The units were not only Marine attachments to the battalion, like the Dam Security Unit, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Tank Battalion, and 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion. The mural also included other services like a Navy “Seabee” unit and the company of soldiers from Azerbaijan that guard the dam.
“I went to each unit that is here to get a copy of their logo,” explained the 32-year-old Hennig. “Once I had the logos on my thumb drive, I was ready to start the drawing.”
After acquiring a computer and a projector, Hennig began making the wall painting with the stroke of a pencil, followed by a permanent marker. The drawing began to take shape and in only a few days, it needed some color.
With limited supplies at his disposal, the 1992 graduate of T.C. William High School grabbed a few cans of spray paint and Q-Tips to give the mural the color it needed.
“I’d spray a bunch of paint in a box and roll the Q-Tip in the paint,” said the former machine gunner. “It took a lot of Q-Tips, but it got the job done.”
According to Hennig, keeping the morale of the troops up while they are in the fourth month of their deployment here is one of the reasons for painting the mural. The hallway leading to the chow hall provided the most traffic as Marines pass it to sit and eat their meal.
“I take a lot of pride in that painting,” he said. “It makes me feel good when I watch Marines look at it or when I get compliments from other people.”
When not painting the mural, Hennig spends the rest of his time working as a sergeant of the guard for the daily security detail and supervising working parties that keep the dam clean. He is also partly responsible for a new recreation room for the Marines.
“He has put a lot of time and effort in keeping the morale of the troops in this battalion up,” stated Chief Warrant Officer Paul T. Pritchard, a Dallas native and Headquarters and Service Company’s executive officer.
In the new room, Marines get a chance to use board games, sports equipment and video games, read magazines, or watch a movie on the big-screen television. The room gives Marines the chance to unwind when not doing their job supporting the Global War on Terrorism.
“I really believe that keeping the morale of the troops up around here will help them be more effective when they have to work the long hours out here,” said Hennig.