The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » William Dean Smock

"That was the best part of my military career, being deployed." (Audio interview, 49:28)

   William Dean Smock
Collection image
Detail from a self-portrait of William Smock in Iraq. Signed "WM Smock 10 Dec 05."
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011
Branch: Army
Unit: 1st Battalion, 163rd Field Artillery Regiment, 76th Infantry Brigade; Indiana Army National Guard
Service Location: Indiana; Iraq
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
View Full Description

Lieutenant Colonel William Dean Smock was in his mid-fifties when he first deployed to Iraq with the Army in 2005. His journey there was unique: after his assignment to an engineer company kept him stateside during Vietnam, he spent several decades in the Indiana National Guard, only to resign his commission and become a warrant officer in order to deploy to the Middle East. An art teacher in his civilian life, he spent his off-duty time painting watercolors of the sights and scenes of his two deployments (in 2005 and 2008), over 100 of which are now part of his Veterans History Project collection. Working alfresco, he would chat with passerby while painting and earned a reputation on base as "the artist." Vivid and evocative, his paintings have been made into calendars, exhibited at the National Veterans Art Museum, and in one special case, given to President Bush.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (59 min.)
»Photo Album  (6 photos)
 Creative Works
»View Creative Works (105 items)
»Memoir and photocopy of a watercolor painting, "Paintings from Iraq 2005."
 Official Documents
»Personnel Qualification Record
More like this
»Twenty Years of Service: Post 9/11 Veterans
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
In 1967, knew his draft lottery number would come up soon; personal connections led to a spot on an engineer company, where he spent four years driving a crane assembling floating bridges; securing a job teaching art at three local schools. (02:08) Became a schoolteacher in elementary art in Indiana; stayed in the National Guard; commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1976; spent the next 28 years in the field artillery; in 2004, decided to resign his commission as a lieutenant colonel to become a warrant officer so he could deploy to Iraq. (02:38) Became a warrant officer in 2004; deployed in 2005; served with the 139th Field Artillery; operating AN/TPQ-36 weapon locating radar; would paint off-duty; painted outside; giving a painting to President Bush. (03:17)
Expectations of combat versus the experience; boredom of waiting on radar. (05:35) Difference between day job and Guard job; schedule while in the Guard; impact on family. (01:54) Incident in which he painted two soldiers who later were killed; how he wound up giving a painting to President Bush. (06:20)
How the fact that he did not make it to the rank of colonel in 2003 was the best thing that ever happened to him; gratitude for being able to deploy twice to Iraq; counts his deployments as two of the best years of his life. (03:17)  

Home » William Dean Smock
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us