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"Saddam" is going on display


- Richard Whittle

(Tuesday, May 10, 2005)

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"The entry to the "spider hole" in which 4th Infantry Division troops found Saddam Hussein hiding in December 2003. A cross-section replica of it is planned for the museum."


Saddam Capture Bunker( 'Spider Hole' ) [ Photo Left: Saddam Capture Bunker( 'Spider Hole' ) ]
Fort Hood, Texas — Saddam Hussein may end up locked away for life or executed in his home country, but visitors to Fort Hood will be able to look into those cold brown eyes for years to come. Curator Ceilia Stratton and exhibit specialist Susan Kaser of Fort Hood's 4th Infantry Division Museum still are fussing with his hair and hemming his pants, but they hope to put the former Iraqi dictator on permanent display this month — in the form of a look-alike mannequin. The $7,655, 6-foot-tall latex dummy, made by Dorfman Museum Figures of Baltimore, is the spine-chilling image of the former "bully of Baghdad" as he looked when he crawled out of his dusty "spider hole" on an Iraqi farm surrounded by 4th Infantry troops on Dec. 13, 2003.

Working from photos taken after the capture, Dorfman's artists took eight months to give the mannequin the straggly, graying beard, disheveled black hair and woebegone stare Saddam had that night. "They do a casting, a replica of the face and then each hair is put in individually," Stratton said while looking at a postcapture photo on display in her museum. "You can see from the amount of hair in that photo that that's what took us so long." With help from a Killeen, Texas, dry-cleaning shop, Stratton and Kaser have clothed their Saddam in a dark-blue shalwar kameez much like the knee-length shirt and pants the real Saddam was wearing when found. They also came up with some sandals nearly identical to the ones he wore that night. "We are going to have to pad his body up," Stratton said. "He wasn't that skinny, though he had lost a lot of weight."

Her Saddam's arms hang freely at the moment, but she also plans to bind his wrists with black Flexi-Cuffs like the ones used on the real Saddam by troops of the 4th Infantry's 1st Brigade. For now, the mannequin paid for with Army funds stands and stares forlornly in the Fort Hood workshop where Kaser puts together exhibits. To avoid his "spooky" brown eyes, Kaser usually keeps a black trash bag over his head. After she puts on some finishing touches, the waxy-faced mannequin will be moved to the museum, which houses exhibits of 4th Infantry memorabilia and great moments from the time of the division's founding during World War I. The new exhibit will replace an existing photo display called "Captured Like a Rat."

The new display will include the only actual piece of Saddam's property brought back from Iraq by the 4th Infantry: a small metal chest painted green and black that held $750,000 in U.S. $100 bills when the troops found it in the spider hole.

A cross-section replica of the spider hole he was hiding in is planned, too, a feature Stratton expects will be a favorite with children. They will be able to crawl through it.

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