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Chainsaw Memorial Salutes Soldiers In Eight Wars
A chainsaw carving of a local Civil War hero sparked an idea for an all-wood veterans memorial in Mason, Mich.
    “I thought it would be a great thing to have in a space in front of the new city hall,” says Bob Raab, a former commander and member of Mason’s American Legion, Brown-Cavender Post 148.
    He spearheaded the effort and, working with other Legion members, decided to have 8 full-size chainsaw carvings made to depict the 8 major wars - Revolutionary, 1812, Civil War, WW I, WW II, Korea, Vietnam and present day.
    They presented the idea to the city council, started fund-raising, and contacted Jim Madsen, the local carver who made the Civil War carving. Madsen coordinated getting the logs, providing the carving space, and finding carvers to create the statues.
    A couple of things were important to Madsen and the carvers.
    “We wanted to include women and ethnicity and all the military branches,” Madsen says. “We tried to cover all the bases.”
    The Korean War paratrooper is a Native American, an African American represents the Vietnam War, a WAC represents WW II, and a Latino woman represents the soldier for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
    Ken Tynan, who served as an MP in the military and traveled all over Europe, carved seven of the pieces. The Butler, Penn., carver is known for his mastery of anatomy and carving human figures. Having been a 60-cal. gunner in the Army he was also familiar with weapons and getting the details right. He looked at photos of various soldiers on the Internet, Tynan says, and then “I just carved out of my head.”
    After using a chainsaw and grinder, he spent about an hour with a chisel on each piece detailing the faces and details.
    “The immensity of it was challenging, carving on 30 to 36-in. dia. hardwood logs, but I’m very proud that I was part of it,” he says.
    Ken Packie, a winning, competitive carver from Otis, Mass., is also proud of being part of the memorial by carving the French Revolutionary soldier.
    The second important part of the project was to promote wood art by using trees from the area. The black walnut for the Vietnam War soldier was donated by a Mason landowner, for example, but most were purchased from a local tree service, including maple, black locust and ash trees.
    The project took about three years to raise funds ($30,000). The Legion got a huge cost break on the carvings because they transported, sealed, and mounted the carvings themselves.
    “We’ve had a tremendous response to the statues,” Raab says. “People bring friends and relatives to see them. Hopefully they will last about 50 years if they are sealed and taken care of.”
    The wooden memorial is one of the Legion’s biggest projects, and fits in well with the organization’s tradition of putting out flags eight times a year in the community and at the cemetery.
    For people interested in similar projects in other communities, Madsen suggests finding carvers at www.chainsawsculptors.com which features more than 800 carvers from 35 countries.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bob Raab, 725 Tuttle Rd., Mason, Mich. 48854 (ph 517 525-0747; rjbarsr@yahoo.com) or Jim Madsen, 6448 Billwood Hwy., Potterville, Mich. 48876 (ph 517 645-4594; madport@aol.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #5