Combat on Canvas

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


Universal 'Marine'

(Eric Long, NASM)

Artwork from the Vietnam War makes up the majority of the Marine Corps’ art collection. While the art program during World War II was just as large, the Marine Corps was not set up to store materials; after the war, any art was returned to the home-of-record of the particular artist.

Colonel Edward M. Condra, III painted “Vertical Envelopment” (shown here) in 1968. “I was in Vietnam day in and day out for several years,” Condra said at the exhibition opening. “I ate a lot of sand, I ate a lot of dirt; I could tell you a lot about nitty-gritty. I spent 28 years as a Marine. I trained to be an artist and I lost my way and came back to art 28 years later. I remember doing this painting. I could smell the exhaust fumes and [hear] the sounds of a ship that has a thousand people [on it]. Marines don’t wear a lot of ribbons or awards, because all Marines are basically the same. So when you say ‘Marine,’ that’s all you have to say. Everybody around the world knows what ‘Marine’ means. So I just put ‘Marines’ on the helicopter.”

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