In June 1966, the Army Vietnam Combat Artists Program was established as part of the United States Army Art Program, utilizing teams of soldier-artists to make pictorial records of U.S. Army activities in the course of the Vietnam War for the annals of military history. The concept of the Vietnam Combat Art Program had its roots in WW II when the U.S. Congress authorized the Army to use soldier-artists to record military operations in 1944.
During the Vietnam Era, the U.S. Army Chief of Military History asked Marian McNaughton, then Curator for the Army Art Collection, to develop a plan for a Vietnam soldier art program. The result was the creation in 1966 of the U. S. Army Vietnam Combat Art Program.
Artists interested in joining the program were asked to submit applications through the Army Arts and Crafts Program facilities nearest their unit. Applications were to contain samples of drawings, photographs of paintings and a resume. Selections were made by a committee composed of designated representatives from the Office, Chief of Military History and the Adjutant General's Office. Supervised by Army Art Curator Marian McNaughton. The program was the joint responsibility of the Office, Chief of Military History, and the Adjutant General's Office with support from the Office, Chief of information.
Nine Combat Artist Teams (CATs) operated in Vietnam. Typically, each team consisted of five soldier artists who spent 60 days of temporary duty (TDY) in Vietnam gathering information and making preliminary sketches of U.S. Army related activities. The teams then transferred to Hawaii for an additional 75 days to finish their work. Artists were given artistic freedom and encouraged to depict subjects in their own individual styles. Art created by soldier artists became a part of the U.S. Army Art Collection maintained by the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH), Washington, D.C.
On 17 March 1969, due to the widespread interest shown by soldier artists and the impact of their work throughout the Army, the official name was changed from the VIETNAM COMBAT ART PROGRAM to the ARMY ARTIST PROGRAM. Coverage was expanded to include portraying the U.S. Army worldwide.
I was on CAT VI, (Combat Artist Team VI) along with the following soldiers. CAT VI, 1 Feb - 15 June 1968, Robert T. Coleman (Grand Rapids, MI), David N. Fairrington (Oakland, CA), John D. Kurtz IV (Wilmington, DE), Kenneth T. McDaniel (Paris, TN), Michael P. Pala (Bridgeport, CT).