Today is Veteran’s Day. It’s a day where we all should take a little time to thank the men and women who have served our country in the military… regardless of your politics.
I never served in the military. It wasn’t something I ever even considered, being focused on college and becoming a professional artist. My grandfather was a World War II veteran, serving in Guam and the South Pacific. He was not at Pearl Harbor, but traveled to many of the other islands in the Pacific, especially after the war to clean up and secure the areas. My uncle (his son) served during the Vietnam War and though he was scheduled to go into the war zone he never ended up being shipped out and stayed stateside. I have great respect for those who serve.
I have had the great privilege to be a part of several USO tours where groups of cartoonists traveled to locales both here in the States and overseas to draw for the troops in medical facilities and bases both within and without active war zones. I have been to Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Kyrgystan and Afghanistan (some multiple times), and met and drew caricatures of some wonderful soldiers. Probably my favorite of all the trips was when our group spent three days on the legendary carrier U.S.S. Enterprise while it was on active duty in the Persian Gulf. We were the last USO tour to visit the ship before she was decommissioned later that year. Yes, we landed and took off from the flight deck. Roller coasters at theme parks make me roll my eyes after that. You can read about some of these trips here: Washington D.C., Germany, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. I was sad that I was unable to go on either of the two NCS/USO tours in 2015, thanks to their being scheduled over two major comic-cons I was committed to being at.
To all those many hundreds of soldiers who spent a little time with me during those tours and let me draw their caricature, and to the many, many more whom serve and have served our country: Thank you.
Here are a few pictures from some of those USO trips:
Jason and Isaac, a black lab that sniffs out IEDs. They had just completed a mission where Isaac had found an IED factory, causing the shut down of the facility and saving the live and limbs of who knows how many soldiers.
Camp Liberty, Iraq, 2009
The group drawing at the Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan 2013
Camp Buehring, Kuwait 2009
Camp Buehring, Kuwait 2009
56 I am close to adding a second caricature workshop in January in Orlando. Details here: http://www.tomrichmond.com/2016/10/21/second-orlando-workshop/
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