Andy's Soldier

The Finished Soldier

The one meter bronze statue for the Monument was completed by Andrew G. Saffas in January 2003.

Andrews friendship – of more than 50 years – with some of the Greek/USOG survivors was the source of inspiration for creating a soldier for the monument. In December 1998, he began to create designs for the proposed monument. In 1999, driven by the desire to honor these men, he produced countless drawings to achieve a design that would do them justice. He created a design depicting a GUSOG soldier, alert, determined, and ready for combat. At the age of 77, realizing that he might have just a few productive years remaining, he made the decision to create a clay prototype for the bronze soldier. Thereafter, to ensure that the Soldier would be accurate in all respects, Andrew spent hundreds of hours researching, consulting with military experts, and procuring authentic uniform, gear and weapons.

Enthused by the project, WWII collectors Greg Kareofelas and Randy Canova – of Davis and Carmichael, CA – lent Andrew, for reference, authentic items which were used by the U.S. Army in 1943. These included canteen, helmet, jacket, paratrooper boots, .45 automatic, and M-1 rifle. Andrew was meticulous throughout the process of making the Soldier, from building the armature to the finished product.

Photo by Greg Kareofelas
January 2003:
The sculptor and four of the surviving members of the Greek-American Operational Group, in the sculptor's studio.
L to R: Sculptor Andrew G. Saffas (seated), Andrew S. Mousalimas, Alex P. Phillips, Nicholas H. Cominos, and Angelo N. Lygizos

A measure of Andrews talent is his prowess in building an armature using materials like metal rods, balsa wood, styrofoam, paper, tape, and wire which will properly reflect the motion he desires in his sculpture. When he is satisfied with the armature, he then applies clay to it, following the muscular contours of the human body. Andrew uses a plastiline clay which does not harden and permits him to work intermittently.

Even though the Soldier eventually would be in full battle dress, Andrew first shaped it in general anatomical form. Observing a live model, he then proceeded to add layers of clay to the armature, detailing the shapes and folds of the clothing with his hands and sculpting tools. Gear and weapons were among the last items he modeled and attached. His final concentration was on the features and expression of the face.

In late August 2002, Andy delivered the prototype to the Artworks Foundry & Gallery in Berkeley, CA to undergo the mold-making process. It was a complicated piece which required many sections to be cast separately (using the classic lost wax process), before being assembled and welded together. At the top of this page are photos of the finished Soldier.