By Paula Valls
From March 4th – June 4th, the Upcountry History Museum was home to the Navy Art Collection of paintings depicting military life during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. War in the Persian Gulf is a collection of diverse scenes from a troubled time, brought to life by combat artists John Charles Roach and Chip Beck.
John Charles Roach served ten years of active duty with the U.S. Navy. He is also an official Navy artist, having trained for three years at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Paris. His artwork from Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm were created while he was serving active duty with the U.S. Naval Reserves.
Chip Beck has served most of his professional career in the military, fulfilling various duties and assignments. He not only served in the U.S. Navy, but also held positions in military intelligence and was given several diplomatic assignments all over the world. Beck was recalled to active duty as a combat artist to specifically cover and create art for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In February, the Upcountry History Museum reached out to members of its veterans’ community, searching for objects to be displayed alongside these dynamic pieces of art, in order to tell a fuller story. Sergeant Major Bob Burns (Ret.) of the U.S. Marine Corps requested a meeting to tell us of two uniforms he acquired through a friend who served during the Persian Gulf War.
The first uniform was that of a U.S. Marine. The uniform itself was a combination of Desert Battle Dress and Woodland camouflage – a change of uniform was slowly filtering through the military and so many soldiers wore a combination of different uniforms. The second uniform was that of an Iraqi soldier. The uniform was found in an abandoned bunker in Kuwait.
Mr. Burns also loaned several U.S. Marine and Iraqi weapons manuals, an MRE, and a Kuwaiti license plate, all to be displayed for the duration of the exhibit.
Another member of our veterans' community, Master Sergeant Sandy Thompson (Ret.), U.S. Marine Corps, was very eager and willing to share several objects gathered while serving during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Among the loaned artifacts were a gas mask, playing cards with faces of "the enemy", and her most prized Kuwait Liberation Medal. Mrs. Thompson, as well as all military personnel who served in the Persian Gulf War, were presented with the medal concluding the liberation of Kuwait in February of 1991.
Paintings by John Charles Roach and Chip Beck on display in the Persian Gulf War exhibit in the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, SC
Artifacts gathered by veterans of the Persian Gulf War on display at the Upcountry History Museum in Greenville, SC