July 16, 2007

WW II hero visited HL to view a bronze likeness

A tough soldier memorialized through a life-size bronze statue

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

Howard Lake is home to metal foundry Casting Creations, which was recently involved in the production of a 6-foot bronze statue of the late Charles Lindberg before his passing.

Lindberg was the last surviving member of six men who raised the first flag on Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima.

A clay model was sculpted by an artist named James Paulson from a picture of Lindberg. Casting Creations, owned by Wes and Lori Jones of Howard Lake, was contracted to cast a life-size bronze statue using the clay model.

While in production, Casting Creations received a call from Mrs. Lindberg asking if one of Charles’ fingers was cut off because they wanted the statue to be as accurate as possible. A childhood accident had taken Lindberg’s finger, Wes explained.

Not only did the company make the statue, it was on the receiving end of a very special visit from Charles Lindberg and his wife upon the completion of the statue and before it was shipped to Bemidji.

The statue was made as a memorial for the Beltrami County History Center, located in Bemidji, as part of its Freedom Defender’s Veterans Memorial and was unveiled May 20 in celebration of Armed Forces Day.

Only months before his passing, Charles came to the foundry to view the statue, Lori said.

“He was happy with it,” said Wes of the reaction from Lindberg upon viewing the statue in person. “He was a pretty nice guy,” Wes said.

The statue depicts Lindberg carrying a flame-thrower, which as Wes said, “takes a lot of guts to haul that thing around. If you got hit by a bullet in the tank (of the flame-thrower) – you’d be done.”

Wes asked Lindberg if he remembered using his flame-thrower, to which Lindberg replied, “If you ever used a flame-thrower, you would never forget it.”

Wes also referred to how thin Lindberg was in the photo used to create his bronze likeness, to which Lindberg said he had been behind enemy lines for about one month without much to eat before that picture was taken.

Soon after Lindberg’s visit, Casting Creations was sent a thank-you card from the Lindbergs with an autographed picture of Charles Lindberg standing next to the bronze statue the company cast, along with a US Marine Corps medal that depicted the flag raising on Mount Suribachi, which is what Lindberg was famous for.

Lindberg was only 24 years old in 1945, and was already a combat veteran of the Guadalcanal and the Bougainville campaign before his infamous ascent, with the 72-pound flame-thrower in tow, to the top of Mount Suribachi.

“He was a tough soldier. Everybody looked up to him,” Wes said.

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