SADDAM HUSSEIN BRONZE STATUE BUST FROM BATTLE AT BAGHDAD AIRPORT
One of the most important relics obtainable from the 2003-2011 Iraq War, a bronze bust of strongman SADDAM HUSSEIN (1937-2006) cut from his 15-foot statue which had once been positioned before Baghdad International Airport, the scene of crucial, heavy fighting between American forces and entrenched Iraqi army soldiers guarding the all-important airfield. Considered by most to be the toughest, and most costly battle of the first push in the Iraq war. The overall height of the piece is 17 in., width across the shoulders, 24 in., depth of the chest; front to back, 14 in., with a weight of 77 pounds. This is a hollow-cast bronze bust, cleanly cut at the the neck (most likely later trimmed by its GI discoverer), still bearing several coats of its original gold paint which is often seen on Hussein's statues and other monumental works in Iraq. The bust remains in solid condition, the paint widely chipped with scratches, as one would expect when such a piece is exposed in a pitched battle. Sold with the soldier's original 'War Trophy Registration/Authorization' form DD 603-1, his signed affidavit of events surrounding his acquisition of the bust, his signed brief description concerning importation of the relic, and copies of earlier media reports on the piece. A very rare and most desirable piece - while Hussein's palace silverware and porcelain have been generally obtainable, other relics, especially those depicting the dictator and which were involved in combat, are all but unheard-of.
On the morning of 3 April 2003, US forces advanced on Saddam International Airport. This location turned out to be the best defended Iraqi position of the entire war and two US soldiers were killed by mortar fire early in the fighting. After several hours of combat, the First Brigade, Third Infantry Division succeeded in taking control of the crucial facility. Before sunrise on 4 April, the Americans were subjected to a fierce counter-attack by Iraqi troops. The First Brigades Tactical Operations Center (TOC) began receiving small arms and mortar fire. Under the cover of darkness, a number of T-72 tanks managed to get within several hundred meters of their position. According to one source: 'It was not until a chemical reconnaissance vehicle was fired on, and a Bradley actually was hit by a T-72 main gun round, that the battalion became aware of its peril.' Fortunately for the crew, the hit was only a glancing one, and they were able to drive their vehicle to safety. A fire team with a Javelin ATGM destroyed two of the Iraqi tanks, while the rest were destroyed by a passing M1 Abrams. As dawn approached, the attack on the TOC intensified, and Iraqi infantry flooded into the position on foot. During the fighting, Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith was killed by enemy fire while fighting off an Iraqi attack on his team in an action that resulted in the posthumous awarding of division's first Medal of Honor since World War II. From the debris of that airport battle, this bronze bust of Saddam Hussein was recovered. It was spotted by a US Army member of the 777th Engineer Utility Team who salvaged the piece from the widespread wreckage and destruction and brought it back to the U.S. after his 13-month tour of duty was over. He told our consignor: 'It was in pieces so I was able to take the head and get documentation to take it through customs. I decided to wait a while before trying to sell it so my children could grow up and see it. I believe it is the only one of it's kind in the USA and it means a lot to me. I served my country and served it well and to be able to bring something home to show my family, show my friends, show them what was taking place was important.'