By Victor Juhasz
In nearly forty years as an illustrator, I’ve been given some interesting assignments: the typical politics and sports, but also children’s books and Broadway shows. In the mid-90s, I started illustrating for the hilarious David Feherty, a regular contributor in Golf magazine and published author. Having a son in the Marines, there was no hesitation when David asked me to be a part of a Troops First Foundation tour of bases in Kuwait and Iraq during Thanksgiving week 2008. I accompanied David and other golf pros, drawing soldiers and Marines, sending the originals to family members for Christmas.
I took the assignment again in Thanksgiving 2010 and 2011, touring Marine bases in Afghanistan and Kuwait, respectively.
This was the start of my work as a combat artist, also know as “witness art.”
Since then, my assignments have included documenting, through drawings and paintings, the training of Special Ops Combat Control and ParaRescue Jumper units. In early 2011, I began collaborating with The Joe Bonham Project, started by combat artist and former Marine Michael D. Fay, drawing and painting wounded soldiers and Marines (in all degrees of severity) at Bethesda Naval Hospital and McGuire Hospital in Richmond, VA, as part of an artist documentation of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the Smithsonian.
Then in August of 2011, the ultimate assignment: embedding as a combat artist with the 1-52nd Arctic Dustoff, an Army helicopter MEDEVAC unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for two weeks accompanying the medic teams on missions recovering the wounded.
It was while at Bethesda Naval Hospital that I met Marine Corps Sergeant Jason Ross, (shown above and below) who was given a two percent chance of survival after losing both of his legs at the waist from a roadside bomb while on duty in Afghanistan. He, like so many others I have drawn, exemplifies courage under fire, a passion to survive, respect, and loyalty despite facing unknown territory, both literally and figuratively.
I recently was invited to do a Tedx Talk at Scott AFB. I will do here what I did in my speech there; I will let my drawings do the talking.
On June 22, much to my surprise, The Society of Illustrators presented me with the Arthur William Brown Recognition Award, “for his passion and dedication in helping to document the experiences of our wounded warriors and bringing humanity to the forefront of combat illustration.”
I truly feel accepting an award like this is not only on behalf of all the great illustrators who have been part of witness art and for my friends in the Joe Bonham Project, but for the men and women who serve and their friends and families who unconditionally support them. They all put more than their lives on the line.
A graduate of the Parsons School of Design, Victor Juhasz began illustrating in 1974 for The New York Times while still a student. In addition to combat art, his illustrations have been commissioned by major magazines, newspapers, advertising agencies, and book publishers, including Golf, Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, GQ, Men’s Journal, Proctor & Gamble, and Morton Swinsky Productions. He was a courtroom artist for ABC-TV for the arraignment of the Son of Sam and for The Washington Post’s coverage of the trial of John Hinckley. He has also illustrated six award-winning children’s books and serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of Illustrators in New York City. Victor can also be found on Drawger, Twitter, and Facebook.