Artist-Alumnus Revisits His Time as a Vietnam War Combat Artist

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 second.

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.

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