Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troopship

SKU: 1574271547

The story of the Gen. Nelson M. Walker troopship began in 1997, when military artifact historian Art Beltrone first visited the "Ghost Fleet" on the James River in Virginia to assist with research for the World War II movie, The Thin Red Line. Once aboard the aging vessel, Beltrone found crowded troop compartments littered with hundreds of graffiti-marked bunk canvases, bulletin boards, and other historic artifacts left not by WWII troops headed for war in the Pacific, but by soldiers going to war in Southeast Asia a generation later. Beltrone's discovery led to extensive research about the Walker, which was first commissioned in 1945 and saw service in WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Many of the artifacts, thanks to the work of the Beltrones, have been rescued from the ship and are now relocated in museums throughout the U.S., including the new National Museum of the United States Army, the Oakland Museum of California, and the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution. Vietnam Graffiti: Messages from a Forgotten Troopship, combines photographs of the ship today, along with historical photos, and a gallery of many of the canvases found aboard. Profiles on individuals who left graffiti and were contacted for their stories are also included.

ISBN: 978-1574271546

Price: $25.00


Vietnam Graffiti Book

“This book rediscovers for me one of the most haunting visual memories of my Vietnam experience. My first experience with Vietnam graffiti was in 1968 on a troop flight from Oakland to Saigon via Japan. When we stopped in Japan for several hours most of us made for the "heads" located in a large terminal. These toilets were constructed of plywood walls which we covered with graffiti, tons of it. Some of it was what you would expect, i.e., "Here I sit brokenhearted. . ." and other simple jokes but the majority of it was the heartfelt thoughts and philosophy of men on their way to war and the possibility of no return. And I'm sure much of what I read was written by men who did not return.”

—Greg Taylor, Seattle, WA