Born: Buffalo, New York, 1949 Served in Vietnam, U.S. Marine Corps 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division Quang Nam Province, I Corps Rifleman, 1969-70 Artist's website
From the Artist:
My Military Occupational Skill (MOS) was rifleman (grunt). For most of my twelve-month tour I was a squad leader. I couldn't speak Vietnamese so occasionally, to communicate, I'd draw for the people I met in villages. I wish I had some of those drawings now, but I always gave them away. It took me some time to redevelop my skills as an artist when I returned home. I was very tense.
"Deceit" is one of many works I've made about the POW/MIA issue. While most were done to arouse public awareness, some were created out of sheer frustration. Around 1980, we began to hear increasing evidence of government cover-ups about POWs. So much anger gushed out of me and onto the surface of the paper. From fifteen feet away I threw various media at it. Up close I gouged my nails into the rag and clawed across the finished drawing. The face of an American prisoner looks out from the upper left corner of the flag. The U.S. flag and its captive are behind a bamboo cage with dark silhouettes of enemy soldiers, prisoners, and the Capitol building.
"Crucufuxion/NAM" portrays an actual experience of mine. Once, in Vietnam during the early morning hours, while our unit was not far from our rear base, LZ Ross, we could see the compound coming under attack. The area was lit up with tracer rounds, pop-up flares, and incoming fire. We were told to move in on foot to intercept the enemy. It was dawn when we reached Ross. The enemy was gone, except for the dead stacked along the road. In the compound our dead were in bags waiting to be lifted out on choppers. Years later, as I recalled this incident, I chose to portray it as a spiritual reckoning. Bodies are lifted into the sky in the hazy background, but the focus of attention is on a tattered camouflage shirt, perhaps that of a dead GI, that's stretched across and nailed into a piece of wood. The face of Christ is inside the shirt, so that it has become a shroud. Concertina and barbed wire crisscross the site.
When I think of Nam, I remember being scared. There was so much to fear. I have nothing against the people there, but I have no desire ever to return.