Honoring Our Military

Battle Cross Sculpture by Black Hearts Chainsaw Art - Wood Carving Soldiers Memorial

Military affiliated Chainsaw Carvings -

At  Black Hearts Chainsaw Art, our Active Duty Service Members and Veterans  hold a special place in our heart. We have had the privilege and honor  of being asked to carve a number of different pieces in support of our  military, their families, and the sacrifies both have made. While our  Unit plaques are popular and fill us with pride when we carve them - our  Battle Crosses are the most humbling. Our Battle Crosses (Soldiers  Memorial) have roughly 100 hours of hand carving time in each of them in  order to ensure the most accurate portrayal as possible and can be  personalized to match the era in which they represent (WWI, WWII, Korean  War, Vietnam, Golf War, etc.).

Battle Cross Sculpture by Black Hearts Chainsaw Art - Wood Carving Soldiers Memorial
Battle Cross Sculpture by Black Hearts Chainsaw Art - Wood Carving Soldiers Memorial

Supporting Our Veterans

Battle Cross Sculpture by Black Hearts Chainsaw Art - Wood Carving Soldiers Memorial

Hand Carved Battle Cross with American Flag draped in the Background.

The story and inspiration behind the original design of our first relief  carved Battle Cross with the American Flag draped in the background  shows the unique bond between Veterans and the community that proudly  stand behind them.

In the fall of 2016, Gered and I learned that a  fellow Combat Veteran, Chad Paxton, with whom Gered had served with  while assigned to the 101st out of Ft. Campbell had been diagnosed with  Bile Duct Cancer - Chad was also a single father of three.

Learning  of Chad's condition, we wanted to do something in order to help relieve  a small portion of the financial stress that he was feeling. We decided  to come up with a unique design that we could auction off - with 100%  of the proceeds going to Chad and his family.

We went through  several ideas before settling on the final design - a 3ft relief carved  wall plaque featuring a hand carved Battle Cross (Soldier's Memorial)  with the American Flag draped in the background. We also spent over a  month of late nights working on this piece after coming in from long  days of working on our regular commissioned orders (it had also been  during the holidays so our order load was high) but in the end, we  couldnt have been more proud of the end results.

Unfortunately,  the morning of the auction, Chad's mom had contacted us to let us know  of his passing in the early hours of the morning. He had able to spend  his final days with his mom, children, and loved ones - she also wanted  to let us know that he had been able to see the completed carving the  night before he had passed away and how much it meant to them both.

The  auction continued as planned and ended in a huge success - with Chad's  passing, 100% of the funds raised went to Chad's mom and his three  children. Elizabeth had been Chad's primary caregiver before passing and  had become his children's caregiver after he passed away.

None  of this would have been possible had it not been for the amazing support  of a community of strangers who came together in an effort to support a  family in their time of need.

To make the end of the auction  even more special - the highest bidder and winner of the auction is a  member of the cherished Gold Star Family - his brother Jesse was a LCPL  in the Marines, who was tragically killed during the terrorist attack in  Beirut, Lebanon on October 23, 1983. I don't think there could have  been a winner more fitted for this piece than Gary.

Paying Tribute to Our Vietnam Veterans

The story of Pfc. Gill and K-9 Fritz

The inspiration behind this piece can be found in the journey of  Brother Roger (then PFC Gill) and K-9 Fritz and their military service  during Vietnam.

In the spring of 2016, we received a  special call from an individual who had a major impact on Gered while  serving together in the Army, Lonny Hayes. Hayes would serve as Gered's  PL/PLT Sgt (who would then later serve as their First Sgt) during one of  their deployments to the Middle East.

In Gereds eyes, Hayes  would become the epitome of a leader - to this day if you ask Gered the  people who have had the most influence on him in his life, Hayes will be  on the top of a very short list. All of the guys that served during  this deployment, and many to follow, would ultimately develop a special  bound that very few will ever have the chance to experience or  understand.

So, when we received a phone call from Hayes last  spring inquiring about having a gift made for a very special and  influential person in his own life (Brother Roger is a key figure in  Lonny and Melissa's church), we were honored to have been thought of.  Then we heard Brother Rogers own story, turning the honor of being  thought of by a close friend to a privilege to be a part of a heartfelt  tribute to a Vietnam War Veteran. While Hayes had initially asked for  something small interlinking the Sentry Dogs and Fritz to present to  Brother Roger - Gered and I had something else in mind and youll  understand why after reading Brother Roger's story.

PFC Roger  Gill served in the Army as a K-9 handler with the Sentry Dogs in Vietnam  from 1967 to 1968. During his time in service as a handler, he  developed a special bond with his K-9 Fritz, a bond that many will never  have the honor of experiencing.

Their relationship went beyond  working, as they would begin to rely on each other to get through some  of the longest and most difficult of days - we all know the love our own  pets share and how they have the ability to lift you up even during the  most difficult of times. Now, imagine being in a war zone, depending on  each other to ensure you both are able to make it back from your patrol  alive, and having a K-9 who has not only saved your own life but has  saved the lives of those around you on several different occasions.  These very special K-9's are just as heroic as our soldiers by not only  having the ability to save lives by their heightened training and skills  but due to their natural ability to provide the love and support many  soldiers need while in the heart of war.. They are a ray of light during  the darkest of days.

When PFC Gill was slotted to return home  from Vietnam in 1968 after a years tour, he was forced to say good-bye  to his K-9 Fritz. During this time frame, the United States saw these  animals as nothing more than equipment and no matter how hard these  soldiers tried, even offering to pay for their return to the United  States, the government would not bring these amazing K-9's home as they  deserved but ultimately left them behind. Today, only recently, our  government now sees the value in these animals, not only as key assets  to our military but for their capabilities, their value (beyond  monetary), and the importance of honoring their service and sacrifices  after these dogs have gallantly served our nation, right along side  their soldiers.

So, in the fall of 1968, when PFC Gill was set to  return stateside, after much effort to bring Fritz home alongside him,  he was forced to leave his best friend behind in a foreign and war torn  country. Fritz would be left in the possession of the Vietnamese and his  memory and the heart ache of leaving him behind would haunt PFC Gill,  now Brother Roger, all these years later. Not until recently has Brother  Roger been able to reach out in an effort to obtain information about  what happened to Fritz upon PFC Gill's departure from Vietnam through an  organization who has gathered service records of these heroic animals  in an effort to ease the minds of those who were forced to leave them  behind.

With all this in mind, hours and hours of research over  the history of these special K-9 hero's, the Sentry Dogs, and the  Vietnam war - we finally came up with the design for a piece that we  felt would truly honor not only Brother Gill and Fritz's service to our  nation but to show the unique bond between two soldiers - both two and  four legged.

History of the Service Flag

Wooden Hand Carved Service Flag honoring our Military during times of War

Customized Service Flag Carved By: Black Hearts Chainsaw Art

Service Flag History

By: Blue Star Mothers

The  Service flag is an official banner authorized by the Department of  Defense for display by families who have members serving in the Armed  Forces during any period of war or hostilities the 

United States may be  engaged in for the duration of such hostilities.

The Service  flag, also called the Blue Star Flag, was designed and patented by WWI  Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the 5th Ohio Infantry who had two  sons serving on the front line. The flag quickly became the unofficial  symbol of a child in service. President Wilson became part of this  history when in 1918 he approved a suggestion made by the Women's  Committee of the Council of National Defenses that mothers who had lost a  child serving in the war wear a gold gilt star on the traditional black  mourning arm band. This led to the tradition of covering the blue star with a gold star on the Service flag to indicate that the service member  has died.

During WWII the practice of displaying the Service  flag became much more widespread. Most flags were hand made by mothers  across the nation. One of the most famous flags was that of the five  Sullivan brothers who all perished on the U.S.S. Juneau.

The Blue  Star Mothers was founded as a Veteran Service Organization and was part  of a movement to provide care packages to military members serving  overseas and also provided assistance to families who encountered  hardships as a result of their son or husband serving in the war.

In  1960 Congress chartered the Blue Star Mothers of America as a Veterans  Service Organization and in 1966, the Department of Defense revised the  specifications for design, manufacture and display of the Service flag.

The  Department of Defense specifies that family members authorized to  display the flag include the wife, husband, mother, father, stepmother  or father, parent through adoption, foster parents, children,  stepchildren, children through adoption, brothers, sisters and half  brothers or sisters of a member of the Armed Forces of the United  States. The flag should be displayed in a window of the residence of  persons authorized.

The Service flag may also be displayed by an  organization to honor the members of that organization serving during a  period of war or hostilities.

The Service Flag is an indoor flag and should be flown facing out from the front window of the home or organization.

If  the U.S. flag is also displayed with the Service flag, the U.S. flag  should be of equal or greater proportions and should take the place of  honor above the Service flag.

Each blue star on the flag  represents a service member in active duty. A gold star is displayed if a  service member is killed in action or dies in service. If several stars  are displayed by one family the gold star takes the honor of being  placed at the top. The gold star should be slightly smaller than the  blue star to create a blue border surrounding the gold star.