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War hero’s memorial good as new

From Horsetrader staff reports

The crew of Sculpture Services of Colorado — Jo and Davis DeDecker and Mary Casey — visited the Sgt. Reckless monument at Camp Pendleton Jan. 30 to give her a “spa day” and return the Korean War hero to her stunning self after four years of facing the coastal elements.

CAMP PENDLETON – As author Robin Hutton visited the Marine Corps base here last September for the 70th anniversary celebration of the Inchon Landing, she was looking forward to walking past the striking monument of Sgt. Reckless — the fruit of years’ worth of dedication of both her and artist Jocelyn Russell. As she neared the Pacific Views Event Center, disturbance set in.

“I’m always eager to see my girl, Sgt Reckless,” Hutton says. However, on this visit, instead of seeing this beautiful bronze monument, I saw how weathered she had become.”

After just four years at her post, exposure to the sun, wind, and salty air had aged her dramatically. Instead of her beautiful patina, she was starting to turn a crusty green.

“I quickly called Jocelyn on my way home and asked her what to do,” says Hutton. “She said Reckless desperately needed a cleaning and a wax.”

Russell recommended Sculpture Services of Colorado out of Loveland, Colo., a family affair of two siblings, Jo (an art historian) and David (an artisan) DeDecker who travel the U.S. rejuvenating bronze monuments. Another sister, Mary Casey, also travels and works with them. “I called Jo and sent her the pictures,” Hutton says. “She gave me a bid and said — Covid permitting — they would be in the area cleaning other monuments in Paramount and Carlsbad and could fit Reckless into their schedule.”

Hutton reached out to Dick Rothwell and the Camp Pendleton Historical Society, Hutton and Russell’s partner in bringing the SSgt. Reckless monument to Camp Pendleton, to see if they could help with the cleaning.

“They didn’t hesitate to jump in and support her, and on Jan. 30, Reckless finally had her spa day.”

The entire treatment was done in a flash. First came a power wash. After that, blowtorches were used to open the pores in the bronze. Finally, the team carefully applied a heavy coat of museum wax.

“What happens is, as the bronze cools down, the wax is sealed into the pores and protects the bronze,” explains Hutton. “Very simple, very effective — and it should last for at least eighteen months.”

So Sgt. Reckless is as stunning and majestic as always – ready to greet her Marines and other admirers.

Hutton said the DeDeckers will be back in a year or two to do it again.

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