Historical Officer Joe Winslow served 21 years in the US Marine Corps. Part of his duties included a posting in the Marine Corps History Division. The mission of an artifact and historical officer is to accompany assault units in combat zones and record what they are doing. This includes recording first person oral histories and gathering relevant artifacts. For example, if a Marine was awarded a Medal of Honor, it would be Joe’s job to track that Marine and record items like the serial number on their rifle, uniforms, vehicles, etc. At the height of the Global War on Terror there were only 8-9 officers serving in these roles.
Joe brought considerable artistic talent to the Corps. Much of the information he recorded in combat were “old fashioned” charcoal and pencil drawings in accordance with the Marine Corps Combat Art Program’s simple mission; “Go to War, do art”.
Joe fought in Operation Phantom Fury – the second battle of Fallujah. He emphasizes that even though he was there to record history, “every Marine is a rifleman first”. During the 71 straight days of combat, he literally conducted interviews and made sketches under rocket and sniper fire. He witnessed “bravery in the extreme.” He shares his own moment of serenity under fire while serving as a Historical Officer.
During the battle approximately 32,000 individual rooms needed to be cleared, sometimes more than once. Nine Marines were awarded the Navy Cross for their actions in that battle and Army SSgt David Bellavia was awarded the Medal of Honor.
When Joe retired from the Marines, he decided to continue to use his artistic ability to honor heroes. The first itineration was the Tripoli Gift Company which produces inspirational gifts for our nation’s heroes and those who support them. Some of his artwork resides in the White House, the National Cathedral & the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
TAKEAWAY: “We still grow ‘em and we can still put them in field like we did in World War II, Korea and Vietnam as young people who can defend America’s interests and take the bayonet forward.”