A piece of Selma in Iraq

Published 1:05 am Sunday, April 3, 2011

This T-wall depicts the unit logo and name of Selma’s National Guard unit. The wall, which is in Iraq, and many like it, are featured in a new book. -- Submitted

The orders have been given for most of those U.S. servicemen and women serving in Iraq to come home in the coming months. It won’t be long before only a handful of U.S. and allied forces remain in the country and now, some of the artwork left behind by some members of the armed forces may not have much time either.

In the sands of Kuwait and Iraq, concrete walls, some measuring as tall as 50 feet, known as T-walls, provide protection to military installations and government offices.

It was these walls, these large, blank walls that soon became blank canvases for some very skilled artists, who just happened to be wearing a uniform and carrying a rifle. The artwork on these walls was images and icons depicting the unit stationed near the wall. They showed unit logos, rank structure and slogans.

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With the drawdown of troops and the handing over of control to Iraqi forces, this artwork will soon be lost, demolished for use in gravel roads and other uses.

But Connecticut resident George Hauer didn’t want that to happen and began collecting pictures of these walls in order to preserve them in a recently released book.

“The walls have been there for more than seven years,” said Hauer, who compiled the book “The T-Walls of Kuwait and Iraq” from more than 2,800 pictures, sent to him by different units. “As we leave the area the Iraqis will retake control and the last thing they want to see are these pictures. So they will either be blown up or turned into gravel for roads.”

One such wall that will likely be destroyed has a special connection to Selma.

On page 25 of the book is a picture of a T-wall emblazed with the words “122 Support Group-Corps, Selma, AL.”

The wall, which also carries the Selma-based groups logo, was painted during the Selma-based 122 Support Group-Corp’s tour in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.

“Some of the walls around were nearly 40 to 50 feet high,” Sam Miller, a member of the Guard unit that went to Iraq and current a sergeant with the Selma Police Department, said. “The first time I saw some of the artwork was at a camp about an hour from where we were stationed. It had a lot of the walls painted up.”

Hauer said the purpose of the book is to not only to honor the men and women who served in Kuwait and Iraq and the units who painted the walls but also to raise money for wounded servicemen and women.

“All of the net proceeds go to help wounded soldiers,” Hauer said from his home in Madison, Conn.

The book is also available to be sold as a fundraiser for churches, civil groups and any other non-political group.

Any group who wants to use the book as a fundraiser can contact Hauer at 203-318-5007.