Friday, October 23, 2009

Portrait of an American Hero

Today via
SAN ANTONIO -- Retired Army Sgt. Richard Yarosh has gotten used to the stares. His face is blanketed in knotty scar tissue. His nose tip is missing. His ears are gone, as is part of his right leg. His fingers are permanently bent and rigid.
 All is the result of an explosion in Iraq that doused him in fuel and fire three years ago.
"I know people are curious," he said. "They'll stop in their tracks and look. I guess I can understand. I probably would have stared, too."

Soon, a lot more people will be staring at Yarosh's face but in a very different way: A life-sized oil painting of him will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington later this month. The portrait, by Matthew Mitchell, is a finalist in the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition, which recognizes modern portraiture at the gallery known for its collection of notable Americans.
 Another excerpt:
The day was Sept. 1, 2006, and Yarosh was manning the turret of a Bradley assault vehicle, patrolling a road that he'd been on "a million times." Only this time, the vehicle hit an explosive device. The fuel tank blew, and Yarosh was instantly covered in flames.
He took a blind jump from the top of the vehicle, breaking his leg and severing an artery that would eventually force an amputation. He rolled around in the dirt, but with so much fuel, he couldn't get the fire out. He lay there, next to the burning vehicle, and gave up.
"I wasn't in pain. I could accept the fact that I was going to go. This was how the Lord would take me," he said.
But for reasons he still can't explain, Yarosh rolled to his right one more time and suddenly fell into a canal, where the flames were extinguished. Fellow soldiers pulled him from the water even as his body armor disintegrated into ash, and he survived. One of the other soldiers in the vehicle did not; Sgt. Luis Montes died about a week after the blast.
Read the whole article here.  If you are in Washington, pay a visit to the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian to see this exhibit.  It will be on display from October 23 until August.  You can learn more about portrait artist Matthew Mitchell here.

1 comment:

  1. Retired Army Sgt. Richard Yarosh is beautiful to me! Thank you, Sgt. Yarosh for your sacrifice and all those who have sacrificed for this great nation. God bless America and God bless you all! I am greatful for my freedoms!

    Theresa R. Woollard