Thursday, September 29, 2005

Moving out into the Field

I'm all settled into both my work and living space, not that I'll be spending much time in them. Got together with my nephew, 1st Lieutenant Richard "Joey" Fay USMCR, yesterday for lunch. Today I packed up my essential gear and temporarily moved over to his battalion's CP at Camp Mercury. His unit, 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment (aka 2/7) is the very same battalion that my father and Joey's grandfather fought in during WWII.

The night before last (Sept.27th) I, along with other "war artists" were interviewed live by a PRI radio show called Radio Open Source and was broadcast from the studios of WGBH in Boston. I called in using an Iridium satellite phone. You can hear the interviews at

Also, you can see a photo of Joey and I at his blog,

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Arrived in the Belly of the So-Called Beast

Got here to Fallujah late last night after two hot and loud and very dark helicopter flights. It's always a thrill to frantically hump a hundred pounds of gear with a flak and helmet on across a flight line lit by yellow chem lights into an awaiting bird. You toss your gear against the bulkhead, strap yourself in, the crewchief turns off the blue night vision google lights, and in the darkness and heat you feel the aircraft shudder at the pilot's demand that it fly.

We arrived at Fallujah around one in the morning and, after a brief welcome aboard and check-in, found ourselves in the temporary male billeting tent. Technology has made it possible to air-condition tents in the middle of the desert to Artic conditions....nearly froze to death. Today was spent in the obligatory round of getting a permanent place to both sleep and to work. Tomorrow will begin the process of getting the lay of the land and planning my first trip outside the wire.

Fallujah, one of the supposedly most dangerous places on the planet, is surprisingly hospitable. But looks can be decieving.....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

In country, in pain

We arrived here at Al Asad early Thursday morning after approximately 13 hours of flight time and a 4 hour layover in Rota, Spain. I've been waiting on further transport to Fallujah. Last night I went for a run in the dark and twisted my right ankle, not superbad, but painfull enough. I'll be fine in a couple days.
Al Asad is a sprawling former Iraqi airbase that partially sits in a depression of sorts. To one side is a crumbling ridge of stratified rock leading down to a marsh of various high grasses and reeds, while off to the other is a gradual rise which levels out into an expanse of desert. The marsh is full of the sound of birds by day and frogs by night. I was shown an oasis within the base perimeter where the Biblical Abraham, according to local legend, watered his flocks. The base is littered with the flotsam and jetsam of the now defunk Iraqi Air Force. As always, this region is punctuated with these extreme contrasts...Biblical oasis with modern junk.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Hurry up and wait turns into get up and go

Anyone in the military will tell you that there is a period of administrative aggrevation that precedes a deployment. Mine has blessedly come to an end. I have orders in hand, gear packed and a weapon issued. For the past two days I've found myself in the middle of a "leapex" getting everything in order. The cat has been deposited at my Mom's in Pennsylvania, friends have been engaged to water the plants and turn the car on occassionally, cell phone service temporarily suspended and bills paid. All that's left to do is clean the house and put out the "gone to fight the indians" sign.

Hurricane Ophelia may complicate things by pushing the flight out of North Carolina back a few days, but other than that the adventure begins.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Getting set to go

In about two weeks I'll be redeploying to Iraq. This will be my second trip to Iraq (third counting Operation Desert Storm). In May of this year I returned from a one month trip to Afghanistan. This was my second assignment to produce combat art of the Marines in Afghanistan. I initially deployed with my fellow Marines to Afghanistan during January of 2002. It is my hope to post to this blog my personal reflections on my experience along with photos of my combat art as its created.

My job as a Marine is to create art. My title is combat artist. The Marine Corps, while it makes it possible for me to travel to combat zones, does not dictate to me in any fashion what art I am to produce, either in content, or quantity. I literally have free reign over my activities and artwork. The resulting artwork is the property of the Marine Corps Combat Art Collection, which is a department with the Marine Corps Historical Division.

My experiences as a combat artist, and the art I've created has been the subject of numerous newspaper, television, radio and magazine articles. I had a one man show of my work at the Farnsworth Museum this past winter titled Fire and Ice: Marine Corps Combat Art from Afghanistan and Iraq

Here ia a sample of some of my previous combat art: