Marine Depicts 'Art of War'
(July, 24, 2009)
July 13, 2009 - Sgt. Kristopher J. Battles, 41, one of only two combat artists in the Marine Corps, works for the National Museum of the Marine Corps and is an activated reservist serving on the front lines of the War on Terror. He paints pictures of daily life under the threat and presence of enemy fire.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE DELHI, Afghanistan 7/20/2009 — Geared up with his wood
and leather stool and an array of brushes and paints, one Marine makes the
Sgt. Kristopher J. Battles, 41, one of only two combat artists in the Marine
Corps works for the National Museum of the Marine Corps and is an activated
reservist serving on the front lines of the War on Terror. He paints pictures of
daily life under the threat and presence of enemy fire.
“He's a renaissance Marine,” said CWO-2 Michael Fay, combat artist, National
Museum of the Marine Corps. “He seems mild mannered, but he can shoot expert
pistol and rifle.”
Battles, a Hermann, Mo., native, joined the Marine Corps in
1986, worked as a computer operator for Headquarters Company, 24th Marine
Regiment in Kansas City, Mo., and eventually became a combat
correspondent for the Public Affairs Office there. At the time,
combat art fell under the hierarchy of public affairs, so he slowly
made the switch from writing to painting.
Even before becoming a Marine, Battles had a great ability to record the world
around him on paper. From the time he was 5 years old, he loved being able to
“While other kids were shooting hoops, I was doodling,” said the 1991 Northeast
Missouri State University graduate.
Battles left the reserves in 1996 and spent the next 10 years living as a
“starving artist,” as he puts it. He also made a missionary trip to Haiti from
1991 to 2001.
“I worked various and sundry odd jobs to pay the bills but I always focused on
my art,” said the former bank teller, but the Corps was never far from his mind.
Surfing the Internet one day, Battles saw Fay's blog which displays Marine
artwork and decided it was time to come back. He sent Fay a link to his own blog
and asked if he'd take a look.
“People send me pictures all the time. The majority are somewhat disappointing,”
said Fay. “But when I saw Sgt. Battles' work, I was blown away. When we found a
world-class artist, we wanted to bring him aboard.”
“I wanted to publish my work and serve my country. It was a win-win for me,”
Battles said. “I waited for my ship to come in, and I got on board.”
Combat artists have been in the Marine Corps unofficially since World War I and
most of them were officers. In 1942, the Marine Corps offered enlisted Marines
their chance to depict life at war, a unique stance from the other services.
Marine artwork by Marines has since been seen in magazines, newspapers and
galleries all over the world.
Today, Battles continues that legacy, and his works can be seen in galleries and
published in Leatherneck magazine.
“He has an amazing ability to capture the moment,” said Fay. “The Marine Corps
never dies. It's the imagery that keeps us alive.”
After nearly 60 days here with the Marines of the Regimental Combat Team 3,
Battles will soon be traveling back to Quantico. He expects to have completed,
museum-quality paintings and sculptures based on his sketches and observations
ready for display in the National Museum of the Marine Corps some time next
A record of modern-day Marine life depicted on canvas or cast in bronze may be
seen by millions of visitors for years to come, all from the works of this one
Article and photo by USMC Sgt. Scott Whittington
Regimental Combat Team 3
Marine Corps News
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