Friday, September 29, 2006

Friday Finish

Today's been both interesting and productive. When I opened my email this morning I found an inquiry from the cartoonist Gary Trudeau's Doonesbury website. On or about October 8th they plan on launching something called "The Sandbox". Here's the description given to me by their representative:

"Welcome to our command-wide milblog, featuring comments, anecdotes, and observations from servicemembers currently serving in OIF and OEF. This is GWOT-lit's forward position, offering those in-country a chance to share their experiences and reflections with the rest of us. The Sandbox's focus on is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. The Sandbox is a clean, lightly-edited debriefing environment where all correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted. All content, no matter how robust, is secured by the First Amendment."

Much like the New York Times' TimesSelect website's Frontlines section and the BBC's Radio5 Live, I've been invited to contribute, which I've agreed to do. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of Doonesbury at the moment, but in the interest of keeping the dialogue open between the right and left I'll gladly participate. At some point the healing in our body politic has got to start.

Today President Bush gave a very spirited speech to the Reserve Officers Association. I found myself saying "Amen, brother" quite a few times. Hey George, please add my name to your comment today to GOP leaders, "I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney and Warrant Officer Mike Fay are the only ones supporting me."

Here's a finished drawing I started yesterday and completed today.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Two For Tuesday

Woman Marine Listening to a Convoy Brief-Al Asad (graphite on paper)
Guardian Angel-Detail of a work in progress (oil on linen)

Here are two pieces I worked on today. The Marine Corps is a pretty diverse organization. I'll let them speak for themselves. Enjoy.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Wounded Warriors Continued

Those of you who've been sharing this journey with me for awhile will recall that I was promoted to Warrant Officer last December 1st by my nephew, 1st Lieutenant Richard "Joey" Fay, at the headquarters compound of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7). We held our little ceremony at sunset and then returned to the battalion COC (command operations center). Within moments of entering the building frantic radio traffic began to flood the COC. All around the battalion's AO several other promotion ceremonies were also taking place, and at one of them an IED had just detonated with deadly and horrific results. Ten Marines were dead and there were scores of severely wounded.

My nephew, Joey, was the battalion adjutant....think of him as the human resources director. In his capacity as "adj" he was at the eye of the storm. He was up all night and well into the next day identifying the KIA and the WIA, doing all the necessary paperwork and initiating the chain of events that would eventually lead to families being notified of the correct status of their loved ones.

One of the Marines wounded that day,Lance Corporal Joseph M. Grady, is the subject of today's image. The other images is another of Winslow Homer's Civil War pieces, "Our Watering Places".

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bloody, But Unbowed

Sergeant Todd Herman USMC

At the moment I'm working on a series of portraits of Marines currently undergoing intense medical care and rehabilitation. These images are the result of visits back in mid-August to both Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals. The project, as it has evolved, will result in four portraits, each depicting a different type of wound. Hopefully they will round out the comprehensive combat art collection exhibit that will grace the grand opening of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.

Our first day was spent at Bethesda, and Sergeant Herman was the Marine NCO-in-charge conducting the morning formation. He quickly organized the guys willing to be sketched and photographed, and identified a quiet well lit space to use as a make-shift studio. Sergeant Herman has been enduring almost two years of multiple facial reconstruction surgeries.

We couldn't have crossed paths with more fearless individual. I remember studying his face as I was doing my initial "you guys are still in the fight and we want to capture your experiences" orientation speech. What really, in hindsight, drew my eye to him was his eyes and the light that rose up in them as I did my little mission brief. This NCO clued in and went to work immediately implementing a plan to accomplish my commander's intent.

In the final analysis what made our trip a success was the fearless and unvarnished emotional availabilty of these Marines. Sergeant Herman instinctively knew that the history of the War on Terrorism was now written in the bold and unmistakeable scars on his face and head, and was unashamed. Let me also go so far as to say that in these scars (which he ryely assured us has not interfered with his romantic life) are writ great words of hope and glad promise for all Americans. At the end of the day our nation, despite the ephemeralilty and expedience that seem to permeate present times, still produces Sergeant Hermans.....folks imbued with timeless values, courage and endurance.

Herman is the personification of William Ernest Henley's poem Invictus, which I leave you with.

OUT of the night that covers me,

Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Just listened to Senator Harry Reid's (Dem-Nevada) highly divisive political screed about President Bush's 9/11 speech. In a nutshell.....he, Reid, accuses the President of partisan politicizing and using the Oval Office as a "bully pulpit". This cartoon gets it exactly right.

My Muse?

This is my cat....yes, I'm a cat guy. His majesty's name is Roddy. Source of the idea, my daughter picked it out. I wanted to name him Whitman. At anyrate, judging by the way he saunters back and forth across my drawing table with regal impunity, Roddy, unlike many of the kind followers of Fire and Ice, is unimpressed by my doodlings. Thank you all for your support and compliments.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Wounded Warrior

The muse was with me today. Despite my jingoistic warmongering neocon ranting of late she hasn't deserted me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Day of Rememberance, Day of Denial, Day of Celebration

Five years ago, in my long lost civilian life, I was working for a historic architecture restoration company. September 11, 2001 found me high up on scaffolding sanding and prepping the exterior dentil molding of a Tidewater Virginian Episcopal colonial church called Hungars Parish. We'd been on the jobsite since sunup. It was a beautiful September morning, the sky cloudless and blue from horizon to horizon and the air delicately fragrant with the harvests of corn, wheat and soybean occuring in adjacent fields. A local farmer pulled his old dusty and dented Ford F150 into the oak shaded grass parking lot surrounding the church around 0930 and shouted up to us in his long o'd Tidewater accent, "yoou bouys better get doown here and listen to the radioo". We did. Planes had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City and into the Pentagon. In that moment I knew that it was Al Qaeda. In that moment I knew as a Marine Reservist my life had been changed forever. In that moment I knew we as a nation were at War. 2,996 fellow Americans, almost all innocent civilians, had been murdered by a terrorist movement which is a pox upon the face and the soul of the world and civilization, Islamofacsism.

Today, five years into World War Three, there are those of us who remember that 9/11 was a highly planned deliberate act of war and not some ill-concieved criminal anomaly. We've acted accordingly and have taken the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan, and more importantly, against Terrorism itself by toppling Saddam Hussein (once the planet's #1 state sponsor and utilizer of Terrorism....he was the WMD!) and initiating the difficult, but necessary process of introducing democracy into the heart of the Middle-East.

Today, five years into World War Three, 2,662 American GIs have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and 329 in Operation Enduring Freedom. Our American homeland has not been attacked again and numerous attempts to do so have been thwarted. The Taliban of Afghanistan and the Baathists of Iraq have both been defeated and two new fledgling democracies are emerging slowly but surely on the world political scene. We are pressing forward both militarily and in the realm of political ideas.

Today, five years into World War Three, there are those who are in denial. There are American politicians and citizens who believe the answer to confronting Islamofascism is to cut and run militarily and ideologically from the battlefield, to remove essential arrows from our quiver needed in hunting down and nipping terrorist plots in the bud and to generally ring ones hands in the face of our enemy's bellicosity, ingenuity and resolve. Yet somehow they want us to believe they would be fighting this conflict smarter and stronger.....perhaps with as much zeal as they've fought NSA wiretapping, money transfer tracking and ABC's Path to 9/11.

Today, five years into World War Three and one year into this blog, I, and hopefuly you, know what my beliefs are. I've been there and done that. Perhaps the current administration has made mistakes and what? That's the nature of war and the messy unfolding of history. No one's digging up the bones of FDR because Pearl Harbor was bombed, Corregidor and Wake Island fell, German and Japanese civilians were immolated by the hundreds of thousands in fire bombings, or because thousands of US citizens of Japanese decent were relocated to internment camps. As they probably would have told naysayers, heeldraggers and second-guessers back then, "it's war stupid".

Today, five years into World War Three, the enemy believes they are winning. What do you believe? The answer to this question has more power than any other force on the planet.

As for the 2,996 innocents who perished at the hands of evil on September 11, 2001 and to my brothers and sisters-in-arms who have willingly given and will continue to give their last full measure in this noble and just cause, I say we will not forget, we will not become faint of heart, we will continue nametaking and heartbreaking in celebration of your lives, and in unrelenting defense of our way of life. To those, due to political expediency, plain studpidity, deliberate ignorance, or any combination thereof, who are in denial, we will continue to press forward despite you. To you, whom I refer to time and again as moonbats, you the highly placed and educated elites mired in delusional conspiracy theories, spineless idealism, misdirected hate and anti-Bush blame-America who are the greatest economic and educational beneficiaries of 4,000 years of Western Civilization's advances and institutions, yet who have become apologists, aiders and abetters to the very people who will at the end of the day hack your heads off without blinking an eye....upon you the cumulative efforts of Civilization, upon you every dime spent by your parents on your care, comfort and education, upon you the risks taken by your immigrant ancestors to make it to our shores have been a complete and utter waste of their courage, thoughts, hopes and you and not the enemy I extend my most heartfelt disdain and disgust. You are parasites. History will speak of you in the same breath as the Copperheads, Vichy French, and Neville Chamberlain.

To my fellow Americans....celebrate and sleep are safe on my watch tonight (please go watch and listen to this wonderful music video by Marine Major Mike Corrado). God Bless America. Semper Fi.

Postscript: I just had to go over to Daily Kos and see how moonbat central is taking note of 9/11. Unfortunatley I didn't wrap my head with a sufficient amount of duck be forewarned, lest your head explodes too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Proven Character

LCpl Andrian Jones by WO Fay

Several weeks ago, within days of each other, I did two things. First, myself and fellow combat artist Sergeant Kris Battles went to both Bethesda and Walter Reed to meet and sketch brother Marines undergoing intense healing and rehabilitation. Second, I went completely ballistic on a local moonbat who evesdropped upon, and then inserted himself univited into a conversation I was having at my beloved local coffee shop with someone else about the fighting between Israel and the terrorist thugs of Hezbollah.

Sergeant Battles and I went to great lengths to insure that our presence at both major military medical facilities would not be seen by our wounded warriors as intrusive or self-serving. (One of the senior Marines revealed that they guys are pretty burned out by the daily presence of Congressional aides who come fishing and probing for problems that their bosses can then make politcal points by fixing.) The officers and senior NCOs at both facilities did a great job of briefing the Marines and making it possible for us to visit under the radar. We were introduced at each facilities' morning formation and took our cues from the Marines themselves. Our message to them was simple; you guys are still in the fight dealing with your injuries and we want to capture that for future generations of jarheads. The majority of young Marines, most with multiple amputations and disfiguring wounds, courageously stepped up to be drawn. A few just weren't ready and we respected that. All, however, willingly spoke about their current tribulations and future hopes. The experience for Battles and I was both humbling and inspirational.

As for the moonbat.......typical and predictable stuff, but coming on the heals of two days with America's finest it had on me what I call the Popeye effect....I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more! Here's the gist of the confrontation. My buddy Tom asked me what I thought about what was going on in Lebanon. My reply was simply that Israel, like us, is currently restrained by the Law of Land Warfare and the Geneva Conventions, which the thugs over at Terrorist Inc, aka Hezbollah, are not. At which point the middle-age moonbat dressed in black and sporting a ten inch long goatee, interjected that the US threw out the LLW and the GC a long time ago and that torture, among other things, was now the official military policy of the evil Bush administration.

Now I had just spent two days with Marines who by and large had been maimed by terrorist IEDs while either escorting a convoy or out on a foot patrol. I've been out on dozens upon dozens of these same convoys and patrols and they all begin with the same thing, THE BRIEF. The brief contains many critical bits of information, not the least of which are the rules of engagement, ie.; Law of Land Warfare and Geneva Convention protocols. The troops are reminded time and time again how to treat enemy combatants while at the same time respecting the locals. To assert that we, the US military, are now using terrorist tactics as a matter of broad policy is asinine........and I told him as much..........and more.

In the course of our exchange I admittedly baited this gentleman, who is a social studies teacher at a local high school. I asked him if he thought 9/11 was an inside job.......he's not sure, might have been. Since he stated that Bush was evil I wondered whether he felt that the terrorists, to include Iran's President Ahmadinejad and his pursuit of nuclear arms, were evil as well. His answer was revealatory. My moonbat would agree that what they did was occassionally evil, but they were not, unlike Bush, evil. I queried him on this point several times, and he simply refused to call terrorists evil. He offered up as proof of Hezbollah's non-evil legitimacy the fact that 14 year old Lebanonese boys are flocking to sign up. I guess that probably means that the Bloods, the Crips and MS-13, since they no doubt attract 14 year olds, are legitimate as well. There was more to the exchange, but nothing unpredictable....same old worn out conspiracy theory and Bush Derangement Syndrome stuff.

Why share this with you? These two experiences sum up my state of mind of late. I am so proud of and inspired by my fellow Marines in particular and by all the folks in uniform in general. But that is offset more and more by the absolute political chaos here at home, as personified by the goateed guy in black at the coffee shop. We're at war and the unfortunate fact that a sizeable segment of our republic doesn't get that is simply amazing to me. The witnesses at the coffee shop assure me I devestated the moonbat's positions, but so what? As long as a large group of educated and influential citizenry in this nation are in denial about the nature of our enemy, and by extension denying our collective political will of their much needed presence, I don't see how we can prevail in the long term against an enemy as evil and as determined as any we've ever faced.

I leave you with a quote from the Bible that speaks to me of the guys at Bethesda and Walter Reed.

And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
Romans 5:3-4

LCpl Richard J. Robinson by WO Fay

Sergeant Ryan G. King by WO Fay

LCpl Joseph M. Grady by WO Fay

Cpl Estaban Diaz by Sgt. Battles

Cpl Andrew Ingram by Sgt. Battles

LCpl Patrick W. Howard by Sgt. Battles