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“If we had a collection of all of this artwork, we’d have a good conglomerate, a good collection of really wonderful works that tells the story…everything tells a story.” (Audio interview, Part I, 56:09)

   Carl Les Fordahl
Collection image
Carl Fordahl, Vietnam [undated]
War: Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Army
Unit: Headquarters Company, 1st Signal Brigade
Service Location: Washington, DC; Germany; Vietnam
Rank: Specialist Five
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Carl Fordahl’s official duties in Vietnam were as an draftsman and illustrator, but he also became a combat artist. But it was twenty years after the war before he finished the drawings he had made during his tour of duty. While in the field, Fordahl only had time to make quick sketches or take photos. Other veterans easily recognized his sketches of locations like Firebase Bastogne. Decades later, Fordahl decided to complete the sketches that he had saved. His work is now in the collections of the National Vietnam Veterans Art Museum in Chicago.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (2 clips)
» Part 1 
Download: video (4 min.)
Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (90 min.)
»Photo Album  (3 photos)
 Creative Works
»View Creative Works (90 items)
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»Vietnam War: Looking Back, Part 3
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (2 items)
Spending much of his time at Firebase Bastogne, which was heavily treated with Agent Orange. (00:38) Being a soldier stays with him, and he enjoys sharing his work with other veterans. (00:35) 
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
Serving as a draftsman and illustrator for the Army, eventually ending up in Vietnam. (00:53) Sent to Vietnam on a drafting assignment; using his free time for sketching. (00:45) Twenty years after the war, his combat artwork started to gather widespread interest. (02:07)
The artistic process in the field. (01:41) Serving as part of a four-man combat art team which had a great deal of latitude. (00:32) Making posters for a special visitor. (01:04)
Losing many of his pieces to censorship or possible theft (00:41) Marveling at the amount of art that must have been created in Vietnam. (01:51) Although he had planned on a military career, he was turned off by the abuse of authority and by attitudes back home. (01:21)
How he is proud of his time in service. (00:26) Not working on his sketches until twenty years after the war. (01:12) 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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