War on Terrorism

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Face of Defense: Artistic Soldier Brightens Afghan Outpost


By Army Sgt. Matt Young
117th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MASUM GHAR, Afghanistan , May 25, 2012 – An Army chaplain’s assistant is using her talent with a paint brush to brighten up this austere outpost set amid the desert and mountains of southern Afghanistan.

Army Spc. Cassandra Butkos has painted colorful military unit crests and patches on many of the protective barrier walls here. She’s assigned to the 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

The division’s prominent “Indianhead” patch insignia often appears in Butkos’ artwork.

“I really love painting. You never think that coming to Afghanistan, you’re going to get to do something that you love to do,” said Butkos, whose artwork also appears at Kandahar Airfield.

She’s also painted the division’s patch and crest on the entrance to the outpost’s tactical operations center, and above the doorway to the chapel.

Butkos said the brigade’s chaplain sent her to this outpost in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district to help spruce up things. She got busy immediately, she said, and would only stop working when the sun went down and it became too dark to paint. After three days of painting her work here was complete.

She said it usually takes her a couple of hours-a-day over a few days to paint a mural. The time required to complete a project, she said, depends on the type of material she’s painting on, if she’s using oil- or water-based paints, the number of coats of paint she must apply, and the type of brushes she’s using.

“It’s a good hobby and I’m glad it has followed me everywhere,” Butkos said.

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