Tuesday, November 29, 2005
21 Going on 45
It's been about a week since I returned from the field. Here's a drawing that I finished back in my studio. It was started early one chilly morning in Old Ubaydi, but the young Marine I was sketching had to suit up and go on patrol before I got little more than the outline of his fleece cap done. None-the-less, I left the barely started piece in my sketchbook. Yesterday, when I was just about ready to tear it out, I stopped and put pencil to paper. The muse, as artists like to say, was with me, and this face alighted on the page. It's not the literal face of the original Marine, yet at another level it is. A significant number of the Marines in Fox Company 2/1 are over here on their third tours. A number of those third tour Marines were "short-timers" with not enough time left on their contracts to deploy a final time. Yet they elected to extend their enlistments to return with their buddies, and lend their seasoned expertise to the newbies.....and they did this as lance corporals, knowing that it would be a third road-trip of humping, patrolling, fighting and possibly dying. These lance corporals are the marrow of the Marine Corps. These are the rough men standing watch and doing violence while we sleep. These are the 21 year olds who feel like they're going on 45. You'll never see them in the mall with baggy trousers hanging off their butts and baseball hats on sideways again.
While I was with Fox Company they lost seven Marines KIA (killed in action). One of them I was blessed with the opportunity to have gotten to know, and in my capacity of oral historian (secondary job to combat art) interview. His name was 2nd Lieutenant Donald Ryan McGlothlin of Lebanon, Virginia. Lt McGlothlin was the best of the best. He led from the front and was loved by his Marines. He was high school class valedictorian, Eagle Scout, and Phi Beta Kappa at the College of William and Mary.