This pencil drawing was given to our family at the funeral of WO George A. (Andy) Howes earlier this month in Arlington, Virginia. The drawing was done by artist Gina Johnson of Woburn, MA. Gina has sketched many military members with Massachusetts ties who died while or after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. She has a whole wall of heroes. She has said the portraits can remind people that there is a face behind every name. She is trying to do all soldiers from Massachusetts or with ties from there.
The tie to Firebird 91 crew comes from John (Ski) Wiklanski of the 71st Assault Helicopter Company, summer ’69 era Firebirds, Chu Lai, Vietnam. Ski was friend and comrade to Wayne Allen, who recently met up with Wayne’s best friend from their hometown in Massachusetts, Fred Shine. Fred knows Gina, and pictured above is the rest of the story
She has captured the essence of each man in their eyes which brings them back to life. I took a copy to mom, who is 92 and in a nursing home now. Her eyes lit up while awe came upon her face. She being an artist herself was very impressed with the drawing. She said, “This is excellent.” I left her holding and looking at every detail. It’s proudly hanging in her room.
Thank you, Gina!
I found an article on the web about one of her exhibits here. Take a look.