‘We hear them and are here for them’: Jacksonville artist paints portrait of Waycross soldier killed in Jordan

A Jacksonville artist is creating a special piece for the family of a soldier killed in Jordan earlier this week.

United States Army Specialist Kennedy Sanders was one of three soldiers killed in a drone strike Sunday.

She was 24 years old.

News4JAX interviewed Jodesha Baldwin a few times before, but this was the first time reporter Aaron Farrar and photojournalist Hunter Vaughn watched her create a portrait from start to finish.

It was an interesting perspective to see the work that goes into making just one.

Baldwin painted more than 120 portraits within the last six months. She said it is her way of helping to keep a loved one’s memory alive.

“I hope that they can be able to know that Jacksonville, we are here [for these families],”: Baldwin said. “We hear them and we are here for them.”

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Below the American Flag waving in the wind, Jodesha Baldwin worked on her latest masterpiece at Philip Randolph Heritage Park.

She painted a portrait of Army specialist Kennedy Sanders, who was killed in a drone strike while serving in Jordan. Sanders was from Waycross, Ga.

News4JAX was with Sanders’ family earlier this week when President Joe Biden called them.

He plans to posthumously promote Sanders to sergeant.

MORE | ‘I’m still in disbelief’: Parents grieving loss of daughter killed in Jordan drone strike receive call from Pres. Biden

President Joe Biden told her family the plan is to posthumously promote her to sergeant.

Baldwin considers painting these portraits as a tribute to the person who died and a keepsake for their family.

She personally delivers them.

“You never know how it’s going to go,” Baldwin said of the presentations. “Some people will break down and cry. You have some people who are just in shock where they cannot move. “I cry sometimes. I cry a lot. I cry a lot for my deliveries.”

She wanted to do something meaningful for the Sanders family.

Kennedy’s mom described her daughter as free living, unlimited and someone excited to serve her country.

For the first time, News4JAX witnessed Baldwin in action.

Everything started with her drawing or sketching the figure.

Next up in this particular case, was using black acrylic paint to add emphasis, along with shading and outlining to make it pop.

She put the finishing touches on it with grey paint and was done after 30 minutes.

“My heart broke for the families,” Baldwin said. “This is what I do. I try to bring loved ones home. My family was [in the] military. I have grandparents who are military.”

When asked what she hopes the Sanders family remembers during the portrait presentation, Baldwin said she just hopes they know they have support.

“Just to know that we love them, and we are here for them,” she said. “The community. Everybody. People are going to pass away every day. Us, as a community, we have to be here for them. We have to. As a community, we have to.”

Baldwin is planning to present that portrait to the Sanders family Saturday morning at Jacksonville International Airport.

She is painting portraits of Specialist Breonna Moffett and Sergeant William Rivers who were also killed.

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