QUINCY, Ill. (AP) — Bob Craig looks at the rows of remembrances and fondly refers to the undertaking as the "Dan Waggoner Project."
Craig, the longtime curator of the All Wars Museum on the campus of the Illinois Veterans Home, is proud to display an ongoing series of portraits that have been painted by Waggoner, a Quincy resident, and, like Craig, a Vietnam veteran.
"Dan is an incredibly talented artist," Craig said.
Craig's words come to life through the work of Waggoner, who is painting portraits of all local military personnel who died in Vietnam, Korea and World War II. He has been working for about three years on the oil paintings, which are striking -- almost haunting -- in their lifelike features. He has finished the portraits of the 46 who perished in Vietnam and Korea and is now working on the World War II portion of the project.
Waggoner sloughs off praise directed toward him, instead preferring to talk about what the portraits mean to the families of the soldiers featured.
"There have been some families I have talked to when they visited the museum," Waggoner said. "Some of have told me I 'captured' their (family member), and that meant so much to me."
The finished portraits all may be viewed at the museum.
Both Waggoner and Craig said it would be difficult to create portraits of all 191 local World War II victims. The pair has been unable to gather pictures of about 160 of those who died but have been unsuccessful in finding images of the rest.
Waggoner's artwork will be one of the focal points at a mid-May reunion of Vietnam veterans in Quincy. Waggoner, a former Marine, and his wife, Brenda, are the unofficial hosts for what will be a gathering of about 15 members from Waggoner's Vietnam platoon.
"About every two or three years we get together," Waggoner said.
Waggoner said it was not until about 10 years ago the reunions became a reality. One of the most memorable get-togethers came when the group met in Washington, D.C. It was the first time most had been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
"Like most Vietnam vets, we came home and didn't want to look back at the war," said Waggoner, who spent most of 1969 in Vietnam.
Waggoner, who was part of a combat unit and wounded his second day in Vietnam, says he and his former brothers in arms now look forward to each of the reunions with great anticipation.
"Most of us never thought we'd see each other again," he said.
Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://bit.ly/2oJs4be
Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, http://www.whig.com
Copyright (2017) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.