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Nov. 26, 2022

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Mural recalls ‘The Forgotten War’

Artist fills in blank on Vancouver's Remembrance Wall

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published:

To support the Korean War mural project on Vancouver’s Remembrance Wall, call Jerry Rolling at 360-281-8222.

As mural artist Guy Drennan’s brush carefully applied paint to the corner of the concrete panel, a phrase came into clearer focus: “The forgotten war.”

That’s how Korean War veterans sometimes refer to their fight against Communist forces 60 years ago.

For 10 years, that panel was a visual representation of a forgotten conflict: a blank spot between mural images of World War II and Vietnam.

Now Drennan is filling in the blank on Vancouver’s Remembrance Wall, along Phil Arnold Way just south of city hall. The Vancouver artist is working off concepts from local Korean War veterans and Jerry Rolling, co-founder of the Clark County Mural Society.

To support the Korean War mural project on Vancouver's Remembrance Wall, call Jerry Rolling at 360-281-8222.

The most striking element is the face of a U.S. Marine officer, whose 1,000-yard stare burns from under the brim of his helmet.

Drennan’s portrait was inspired by a magazine photograph of Marine Capt. Francis Fenton, who had just been told that his unit is running out of ammunition.

The photo, taken by David Douglas Duncan, has stuck with Korean War veteran Harold Olson for 64 years.

“I remember when it came out” in a 1950 edition of Life magazine, said Olson, with Southwest Washington’s Richard L. Quatier Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association. The Navy veteran is past first vice commander of the group. The Korean Society of Vancouver also participated in the project, Olson said.

Another element represents a NASA satellite image taken at night over the Korean peninsula; lighted cities illustrate the stark difference in living conditions.

“South Korea is a blaze of light,” Rolling said. “North Korea is a couple of dots.”

Drennan started the mural on Oct. 1. He had hoped to have it finished by Thanksgiving, but “it’s not likely, given the weather.”

A summer dedication is tentatively planned.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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