By JEFFREY POWELL
United States Army Special Forces Group (SFG) soldiers seldom cry in public. Last Wednesday, Aug. 31, was an exception to that rule as more than 100 troops, friends and family members gathered to honor fallen soldier Sgt. Timothy Padgett. Padgett was killed in action on May 8, 2007 in Sangin, Afghanistan. The ceremony was held at the 7th SFG new training facility south of Crestview.
“Tim died with his finger on the trigger, he died a warrior,” said Lt. Col. Kirila while fighting back tears. “Tim was a part of this family and so are you, Glenda (Tim’s mother) please come back and visit with us often.”
The height of the event was the unveiling of a portrait painted by The American Fallen Soldiers Project artist Phil Taylor. Taylor has been painting and donating portraits of fallen soldiers to family members left behind since 2006 when he lost a friend to military actions in Iraq. He saw the impact the portrait made on family members and created the American Fallen Soldiers Project.
“Painting Tim was all about the smile,” Taylor said emotionally. “My wife and I do not take this work lightly. We attempt to honor all fallen soldiers with these portraits. It is both a pleasure and an honor to be here today. I hope you are proud.”
Taylor spends approximately 80 hours working in private on each portrait. Since the project began he has painted more than 100 soldiers that have been killed in battle. His paintings are donated at no cost to the family. Taylor presents each of the portraits in person.
“I want to give a big thank you to Phil and everyone for being here today,” said Glenda Penton. “Tim made us proud. He made us proud of the military. He was a member of the 7th SFG before it was here in Crestview so in a way it feels as if he has come home. Having the portrait unveiled here makes this day double special.”
To learn more about The American Fallen Soldiers Project see AmericanFallenSoldiers.com
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