The Vietnam Graffiti Project (VGP) was formed immediately after co-founder Art Beltrone discovered the artifacts aboard the General Nelson M. Walker in 1997.
The find was discussed with his wife and project co-founder, Lee, and the couple established the VGP. The project became a registered non-profit organization “…to collect, preserve, and make available for display to the public artifacts from various troop transport ships used during conflicts in which the United States is currently engaged, was engaged in the past, or will be engaged in the future.”
Art, the project president, is a military artifact historian and former journalist who has actively pursued the study of militaria for more than 50 years. He, along with his wife Lee, co-authored the books A Wartime Log and Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troopship. Beltrone served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1963-1969.
VGP Vice President/Secretary Lee Beltrone is a professional photographer and has been involved with the Arts also for more than 50 years. She served as co-author and photographer for both A Wartime Log and Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troopship.
The couple serves as co-curators of the VGP’s national traveling exhibit, Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam.
Three additional directors serve with the Vietnam Graffiti Project. They are Lisa Lyne of Lynchburg, Virginia, who specializes in community relations; former Marine and designer Edward J. Keller of Oceanside, New York; and Jerry Lee Barker of Indianapolis, Indiana, former Indianapolis police chief and a U.S. Army veteran who went to Vietnam aboard the Walker as a member of the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry.
VGP is assisted by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities of Charlottesville, Virginia, and many businesses and individual volunteers throughout the nation.
Vietnam veterans who went to war aboard the troopship Walker recently helped install protective acrylic sheets on historic graffiti-inscribed canvases for the Marking Time: Voyage to Vietnam exhibit. The volunteer effort, at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland, was organized by Gary Hartt, 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry veteran and Mulino, Oregon resident. Thanks to all for a job well done!