Combat on Canvas

Art and artifacts from the Marine front lines, now on display in Washington.


For Lack of a Word

(Eric Long, NASM)

“The Marine Corps doesn’t do a lot of nose art—we’re not flashy like that,” says Marine Corps museum curator Ben Kristy. “But we do have unique patches.” While the museum has a fairly extensive collection of patches, it didn’t have an example of original design artwork. Enter Douglas Fink, an industrial-artist-turned-dive-bomber-pilot in World War II.

When his commander announced a competition asking for a nickname and emblem for the new squadron, Fink, a Douglas SBD Dauntless pilot with VMSB-244, responded. (It didn’t hurt that the prize would be a bottle of gin.)

Fink scrounged up some plywood, paged through the dictionary looking for words that went with “bombing,” and decided “banshee” fit the bill. The resulting artwork, seen here, won first prize. Unfortunately, by the time the bottle made its way to Fink, all the gin was gone.

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