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2313 Red River St. Austin, Texas, 78705, Tel: 721-0200

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Last Updated
January 6, 2006

The Vietnam Experience
New Exhibit
Opens Veterans Day,
November 11, 2005


Temporary Exhibit Gallery, Fourth Floor
LBJ Library and Museum, 2313 Red River St.



Vietnam Veterans View Vietnam Experience

Ted Gittinger of LBJ Library Speaks with Vietnam Experience ViewersVietnam Veterans Lunch at LBJ

To download images of the artwork, go to:


(Austin) - Visitors to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum can experience the Vietnam War through the eyes of U.S. Navy combat artists in a new exhibit opening on Veterans Day.

The Vietnam Experience is strongly interpreted in this selection of 22 paintings, watercolors, and drawings by six combat artists. The exhibit, on loan from the Naval Historical Center, runs from Veterans Day, November 11, 2005, to Memorial Day, May 29, 2006.

From “blue water” ships offshore to the swift boats patrolling the rivers, the U.S. Navy participated in a wide variety of roles and missions during the Vietnam War. Navy combat artists recorded many of these activities, often sharing the same dangers as the sailors and Marines they accompanied.

These paintings and drawings give a visual sense of the Vietnam War, from the colors and landscape to the people and the adrenaline-charged combat actions. The paintings capture the surprise attacks of the guerilla conflict, the vigil River Patrol Boats maintained in keeping rivers open, and eyewitness accounts of the dangers of this war.

The exhibit also highlights non-combat roles of the U.S. Navy in Southeast Asia, including the Seabees’ many military engineering projects in support of troops and civil action projects to improve the lives of Vietnamese civilians.

One of the artists featured in this exhibit, John Charles Roach, was an officer in the Navy and served in the Public Affairs Office. The other artists were civilians hired by the Navy to record this period of history.

The LBJ Library and Museum is adding five Vietnam-era art pieces from its permanent collection to the exhibit. They include three ink on paper drawings of then Marine Major Chuck Robb and a painting of the first and last panels of the names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D. C., called Wall of Sleep, which will be the end piece of the exhibit.

History of the Art
The Navy Combat Art Program was founded in 1941 at the persistence of Griffith Bailey Coale, a well-known muralist. Believing that war was imminent and recognizing the value of having competent artists present at the scene of history-making events, Coale convinced top Navy commanders to send himself and other artists into the field.

During World War II, combat artists were commissioned officers in the Navy and served alongside sailors and Marines. In the Vietnam War, dozens of civilian artists were hired to document naval activities. In the mid-1980’s the Combat Art Collection was transferred to the Naval Historical Center. Although funds for hiring artists have been limited, a handful of civilian and military artists have captured the experience of war in Desert Shield/Storm and Bosnia.

Currently the tradition of combat art continues. There are two artists who are documenting contemporary naval actions; one, a civilian, has been in Iraq and the other, a member of the Navy Reserves, lives in France.

For more information, go to:

The LBJ Library and Museum
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Vietnam Veterans view Vietnam Experience Vietnam Veterans View Vietnam Experience
Vietnam Veterans View the Vietnam Experience