US Army Combat Art Team IV

15 August-15 October, 1967, Vietnam
16 October-31 December 1967, Hawaii

Team IV members:
Sp/4 James Pollock from South Dakota
Sp/4 Daniel Lopez from California
Sp/4 Samuel Alexander from Mississippi
Sp/5 Burdell Moody from Arizona
Sgt. Ronald Wilson from Utah
Technical Supervisor Lt. Frank M. Thomas

James Pollock's home state was and still is South Dakota. At the time of his selection to US Army Combat Artist Team IV he was serving as a Sp/4 postal clerk with First Base Post Office, 8th US Army, and was stationed at Camp Ames near Taejon, South Korea. All artwork completed as a soldier artist are in the Military History War Art Collection in Washington D.C.

The following was written Doug Spomer, Assistant focus Editor ABERDEEN AMERICAN NEWS Sunday Oct. 19, 1980. Reprinted in Prairie Pioneer weekly newspaper of Pollock, South Dakota.


By Doug Spomer

It's been about 13 years since Jim Pollock of Pierre walked through rice paddies in Vietnam, but it's all still very real to him. As a combat artist during the war, it was his job to see, and to record the war on canvas.

Pollock, who grew up in the south Dakota town of the same name (named after his great-grandfather R.Y. Pollock) served in the army in 1966 and 1967. A couple of those months were spent in Vietnam as part of a 30-member elite team of artists who were free to go anywhere in South Vietnam to draw the story of the war.

The Army, unlike the rest of the armed services, chose the artists from its own ranks, because it wanted the art '"'from the eyes of the soldiers.'"'

Pollock says that unlike some combat artists he didn't focus on the fighting and the '"'romantic'"' part of war. He focused on the everyday scenes.

Some of his drawings included soldiers checking peasants for identification, an Army patrol waist deep in water, a wounded soldier being taken off a helicopter on a stretcher.

One of Pollock's favorites showed a soldier getting his hair cut in camp by a barber who was flown in by helicopter. '"'It just seemed a little ironic that in the middle of a war zone, a soldier would worry about a haircut,'"' he says.

When Pollock traveled around South Vietnam, he usually travelled with his sketch pad, paint brush and a 45-caliber pistol. He relied on units traveled with for protection.

Unlike other wars, Vietnam was not typified by many large battles, but a lot of small skirmishes with the enemy, he says. The real worry was the possibility of walking into booby traps set by the enemy. '"'It's kind of like walking on the prairie. Your're not always living in fear, but you have to realize that at any time you could step on a rattlesnake, he says.

In the first part of the Vietnam War, Pollock worked as a postal clerk in Korea, but when he was transferred TDY to Vietnam, he immediately noticed a completely different atmosphere.

'"'There was kind of an electric, hyperactive excitement,'"' he says. '"'It was like a unique mixture of primitive and modern cultures.'"'

One of the ironic scenes that stands out in his mind was when soldiers were sitting in the middle of the war zone, watching '"'Combat'"' on their portable televisions.

Pollock still senses these feelings toward the Vietnam war including some feelings of resentment. He recently travelled to Washington, D.D., where most of his art is housed, and the museum curator said there is still very little interest in Vietnam War art.

'"'It was a very unpopular war and people do not want to be reminded that it actually took place,'"' he says.

After serving in the Vietnam War, Pollock was staff artist for Dakota North Plains Corporation in Aberdeen, and from 1973 to 1979 he worked as a graphics artist and illustrator for the state of South Dakota. About a year ago, Pollock left his position to try free-lance artist work.

His recent work includes a series of limited edition silkscreens that he sells. Most of the subjects are wildlife.

Last month he was named South Dakota Artist of the Year by the Cowboy and Western Heritage Hall of Fame. And this summer, he was named '"'People's Choice'"' at the Outdoor Art Contest in the Rushmore Mall in Rapid City.

Pollock says his art has changed a great deal since his combat artist days in South Vietnam, and he says people's conception of art has also changed.

'"'People are starting to make their own decisions on what they consider good art,'"' he says. '"'It's like a maturing process--people are deciding what they like on their own and it's a good idea. They're no longer afraid to just say 'I don't like this.''"'

End of Aberdeen American News story.

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