By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Nov. 22, 2018) A recently-completed wooden carving of a battlefield cross, consisting of a rifle, helmet and combat boots, will find a new home at the Worcester County Veterans Memorial on Racetrack Road in Ocean Pines, this May.
Marine Corps veteran Anthony Marquez has dedicated his life to commemorating gold star soldiers and his own fallen brothers with wooden carvings of the battlefield cross.
“I delivered my first carving to the gold star family of Robert Grenigers in Minnesota on the fifth anniversary of his death on July 12, 2016,” Marquez said. “I’ve been doing them ever since.”
Marquez’s last deployment was to Sangin, Afghanistan, in 2011. His Battalion lost 17 members during that tour. In 2016, Marquez made it his mission to provide chainsaw carvings for each family member who lost their son during that 2011 deployment.
Since then, Marquez, who lives in Oklahoma, has been making customized carvings for individuals and performing live demonstrations all over the country. He has already provided carvings to 16 of the 17 families whose sons gave the ultimate sacrifice.
“I do it to give back to the families,” Marquez said. “That’s my whole goal. What I’m trying to accomplish is being completed and I’m coming up on the end of it. It won’t be the end of the carvings, but my initial mission will be completed.”
Marquez spent six hours on Friday, Nov. 9, at the K-Coast on 36th Street carving his 36th battlefield cross on behalf of fellow Marine Corps veteran Alex Mitchell, who organized an awareness event for veterans’ mental illness and addiction.
Mitchell, of Ocean Pines, has been struggling with mental illness his entire life and said he understands first-hand the challenges veterans face on a daily basis. The gathering was a public awareness event for Mitchell’s new program called MI*A, which stands for Mental Illness and Addiction.
“I’m always trying to do things in the community and I’m excited to be someone who can bring people together for a good cause,” Mitchell stated in a press release.
Marquez’s 55-inch carving was purchased by the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation before the sawdust hit the floor.
“It came out absolutely beautiful,” Marie Gilmore, president of the Veterans Memorial Foundation, said. “It was more than we could ever hope for. [Marquez] did an exceptional job on it and he was such a nice man to speak with. A very humble young marine with tremendous talent and a generous heart.”
Originally, the carving was going to be created at Veterans Memorial Park and auctioned off. Because of his close friendship with the owner of K-Coast, Mitchell changed the location of the event, though the carving left an imprint on Gilmore.
“Alex Mitchell notified me about the carver coming up from Oklahoma,” Gilmore said. “Alex had already commissioned the carving. So, I spoke to the Board of Directors of the Veterans Memorial Foundation. I said, ‘This is a piece we should consider purchasing.’ They unanimously approved it.”
The carving was completed on Friday; however, it will not be officially installed at the memorial until Memorial Day weekend. A base still needs to be created for the piece and it needs to undergo regulations and weatherproofing before it can become a permanent fixture in Veterans Memorial Park.
For more information on Marquez’s sculptures, visit www.xviicarvings.com. To learn more about the Veterans Memorial Foundation, visit https://opvets.org.