Artist-Alumnus Revisits His Time as a Vietnam War Combat Artist
Don Schol, BA '63, dreamt about his time in Vietnam for 20 years.
"Every night, something," he said.
The UD philosophy alumnus and emeritus professor of art at the University of North
Texas trained as a sculptor with UD professor Heri Bert Bartscht before earning his
master's of fine arts from the University of Texas in 1966. In 1967, Schol was deployed
to Vietnam to serve in the Office of Military History's combat artist program.
"We carried a sketchbook, a camera and an M-16," said Schol, in a Feb. 19 lecture
in Gorman Faculty Lounge.
After learning that he was going to be drafted, Schol enlisted in officer candidate
school, where he was given ranger trainingtraining for those who fight behind enemy
lines. Once in Vietnam, Schol led a team of four other artists into the field to record
the war. Their commanding officer made it clear they were soldiers first and artists
His first experience of combat was flying with the outfit that the 1979 movie "Apocalypse
Now" was based on.
"Have you seen 'Apocalypse Now?' That's Vietnam," Schol said.
Schol credits his survival to four things: his philosophic training, his ranger training,
his own morals and the grace of God.
After Schol's tour of duty, he was billeted in Hawaii to work on a larger collection
based on his sketches in the field. His bronze-cast sculptures remained in the Smithsonian
archives until recently.
That was the last time Schol made his time in Vietnam the subject of his work until
2007, when he began the series of prints that will reside in Gorman Foyer until March
4: "Vietnam Remembrances."
Completing the show, he said, brought an end to the dreams.