November 29, 2013 at 5:38 PM
Sketched Nov. 26, 2013
For the first time in years, the Polar Star is about to go break some ice.
Budget cuts and repairs kept the aging heavy-duty icebreaker sidelined since 2006, but come Tuesday, it will leave Pier 36 on a four-month deployment to Antarctica.
Deck Officer Paul Garcia said the mission is to break a path through 80 miles of ice so a tanker can bring fuel and supplies to the remote McMurdo Station, a U.S. research center built on the world’s most southern piece of ground accessible by ship.
The cutter can break through ice up to 21 feet deep, Garcia told me as I joined him and Operations Specialist Zachary Madden atop the ship’s “aloft conn,” the navigation station with 360-degree views situated high up on the vessel’s mast.
Madden noted it’s summer in Antarctica, so the crew will have constant daylight to admire landscapes most of us won’t experience in our lifetime.
If only I could tag along with my sketchbook!
Try to blur the city skyline you see in these sketches and picture ice and penguins instead. That’s what awaits the Polar Star in Antarctica.
August 23, 2013 at 6:31 PM
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will spend life in prison without the possibility of parole, a military jury decided Friday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Here are the moments I was able to draw in the courtroom:
Staff Sgt. Walden, the court bailiff, handed the jury’s decision to judge Col. Jeffery Nance, who read it and gave it back to him to take to the jury for the final announcement.
Lt. Col. Jay Morse presented the prosecution’s closing arguments to the jury of six high-ranking U.S. Army soldiers. Among the slides he showed, I was left with the impression of an image that showed one of Bales’ victims, a young girl with her head all covered in blood.
Morse also showed a slide with the names of 48 people who died or were wounded by Bales.
Defense attorney Emma Scanlan tried to convince the jury that her client, who already pleaded guilty for his crimes in June, deserved a chance at parole based on his military record.
Afterward, the group of Afghans flown to JBML for the sentencing appeared before the media. Since we were outside the courtroom, cameras were allowed and recorded the moment. For a minute I thought I’d just listen, but then I started to sketch. That’s what I came to do, after all. It’s a scene that I will remember for a long time.
August 22, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Thursday was my second day sketching at the sentencing hearing of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales.
One of the most anticipated moments of the week happened during Bales’ unsworn testimony. As expected, he apologized for killing 16 Afghan men, women and children in Afghanistan last year. Defense attorney Emma Scanlan asked Bales: “Who’s responsible for what happened?” Then Bales replied: “I am. I am responsible,” and then continued expressing deep regret for his actions. “I’m sorry. I’m truly, truly sorry.”
Earlier the defense team called Marc Edwards to testify. Edwards is a former professional football player and knew Bales from high school.
SFC Timothy Farris served with Bales in Afghanistan. He described situations where Bales and other fellow soldiers wore themselves out helping wounded civilians.
CSM (Retired) Alan Bjerke said he remembered Bales as always upbeat and with a smile on his face.
A serious trial is not without a lighthearted moment, I guess. Judge Col. Jeffery Nance got impatient when the witness on the stand, Major Brent Clemmer, didn’t have a laser pointer for his presentation. A member of the prosecution team said he could use his, but not before informing the judge that it was his “personal pointer.”
After nearly five hours, the sentencing wrapped up for the day. Though I spent most of the time concentrating on the witnesses, the judge and the defense team, the moment that stood out the most for me happened during a break after Bales’ testimony. Members of his family cried on his shoulder as he hugged them one by one. I did the sketch above as he embraced his wife, Kari.
August 21, 2013 at 6:39 PM
When cameras aren’t allowed in a court of law, old-fashioned sketching can do the job of capturing the visual information we are accustomed to seeing in photos. That’s been the case with this week’s Robert Bales’ sentencing hearing, which started Monday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma. Bales is the U.S. soldier who pleaded guilty of killing 16 Afghan villagers in Kandahar in 2012.
I was able to be in the courtroom today as witnesses for the prosecution and defense teams took the stand. Below are my sketches and here is the story filed by Times reporter Lewis Kamb.
November 9, 2012 at 10:20 PM
These young war veterans didn’t lose any limbs in combat. They returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan a few years ago all in one piece, but soon began to feel the pain of invisible injuries they didn’t even realize they had.
We hear the names of these injuries more and more these days: PTSD for post-traumatic stress disorder and TBI for traumatic brain injury. Yet it is hard to fully understand the struggles these veterans go through to keep themselves together.
As Veterans Day rolls around Sunday, I will be thinking of these soldiers and the thousands more among us whose wounds cannot be seen but are very real.
After two war tours, Timm Lovitt came back home to Lynnwood in 2005 with one goal in mind: to get his college degree. But the former U.S. Army sergeant quickly found himself at a disadvantage. He couldn’t retain anything he studied would study. “I would read a page and immediately forget what I had just read,” Lovitt, 30, told me over coffee at Edmonds Community College Student Union Hall.
Doctors told him that he had lost his visual retention due to a traumatic brain injury. Lovitt guesses it may have been caused by the shock of a suicide car bomb explosion in Baghdad. He survived the attacked and was back on patrol the next day.
The TBI diagnosis allowed Lovitt to benefit from school exceptions for people with disabilities, like extended time for exams, and access to audiobooks — and found that his memory responded to sound better than images. In 2010, Lovitt graduated with honors from Seattle University.
In Iraq, Air Force Security Forces sergeant Nikki Davis and her eight-person squad provided ground security to Air Force installations. Asked about her worst experience, the self-described tough girl from Tacoma only wants to say this: “We were always fired up and ready to go.”
After her deployment, Davis, 34, quit her eight-year military career and started a new life. She juggled college classes and a job as a Pierce County bus driver.
Eventually, the stress of combat caught up with her. She couldn’t control her anger and felt no empathy for people. “Anything would get me from 2 to 60 in a hearbeat,” said Davis, who still worries someone may sneak up behind her if she has her back to the door.
Davis only started treatment for her PTSD four months ago, but she’s happy she finally sought help. “I need help. It takes a while for a veteran to say those words.”
Jeremy Grisham, a Vashon Island native who is now 37, grew angry and depressed after returning from Iraq in 2003. The Navy medic felt he could have done more to save Iraqi civilians left dead and injured on the roadside during the speedy march to liberate Baghdad.
When he returned to San Diego, where he was stationed with the Marines at Camp Pendleton, Grisham struggled at work. Even the most simple medical procedures became hard to deal with; everything felt like a life-or-death situation. He started cutting himself and had thoughts of suicide.
In 2005 he was diagnosed with PTSD and left the Navy, beginning a slow path to recovery and eventually returning to the Puget Sound area. Grisham has found ways to cope by working on habitat-restoration projects with other veterans and rollerskating with friends. “It’s important not to let the injuries define us.”
A group of Vietnam vets recently helped Bernard Baker move into his new house in the Tacoma area. Baker, a 6-foot-1 guy with the build of a basketball player, was so embarrased to get the help from older guys that he got dizzy and vomited.
Severe vertigo and migraines are just some of the symptoms of his TBI. Too much light can also make him faint and he often wears sunglasses inside the house.
Of his tour of duty in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, the Brooklyn native remembers the adrenaline rush of combat, bullets whizzing by, and an IED hidden in a garbage can that exploded within feet of his Stryker vehicle, knocking him off his seat.
Baker, 36, spends much of his time at doctor appointments now. Life feels like a roller-coaster ride, he said. “If you don’t seek help, your problem gets worse … I just don’t want to be left behind. Don’t forget me.”
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend
August 27, 2010 at 7:13 PM
Sketched Aug. 24, 11:52 a.m. [Click sketch to view larger]
The flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln provided a picture-perfect view of the Puget Sound as I sketched and chatted with new sailor Kayde Williamson, 20, of Moses Lake. The Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fueling) Airman is one of more than 5,000 personnel serving on the Everett-based aircraft carrier (see earlier posts Tuesday and Thursday.)
Williamson said Washington’s mountains never looked as beautiful to her as they did when the carrier docked at its home port last week after completing an 18-day drill off the coast of Southern California. Of her first experiences on the ship since joining the Navy a few months ago, she pointed out how friendly everyone is and how much she misses the food from home. “My mother is a really good cook … I’ve been eating a lot of salads,” she said. “You learn to appreciate things.”
The carrier is expected to go on deployment “within weeks,” according to the ship’s public affairs officer Lt. Cmdr. William Marks.
I can’t imagine how hard it must be for Navy families to see their loved ones sail away, especially when they go on six-months overseas deployments.
I don’t have any relatives in the Navy but my family is connected with some Navy families through MOSS (Mothers of South Snohomish). Like they already do, I will follow the activities of our locally-based aircraft carrier through their page on Facebook from now on. It’s at www.facebook.com/usslincoln.
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Fueling) Airman Kayde Williamson on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln
Back to school: I’m still in search of an interesting back-to-school tale worth sketching. If you know of anyone going back to school to start a new career, or you are one of them perhaps, don’t hesitate to contact me at gcampanario at seattletimes dot com or via Twitter or Facebook.
Coming up: Have you heard of Storefronts Seattle? It’s a community effort to bring back to life vacant retail spaces around Pioneer Square and the International District. A few of these spaces will be temporarily occupied by selected local artists or art groups who applied to the program. Next week I’ll be meeting and sketching some of them. Stay tuned!
August 26, 2010 at 12:11 PM
Sketched Aug. 24 at Everett’s Naval Station [Click sketch to view larger]
On Tuesday, I showed you a view of the USS Abraham Lincoln from the streets of Everett. The aircraft carrier already looked big from afar, but it was even more imposing from Pier Alpha at Everett’s Naval Station, so enormous that I had trouble sizing up the proportions so it would fit on my sketchpad.
It’s easy to be impressed by a ship of this caliber. Yet, what I find more interesting is the number of people who serve on it, more than 5,000. The Naval base is actually the second largest employer in the county — Boeing is the first one.
A handful of civilians also come along on deployments, said public affairs officer Robyn Gerstenslager. They include a college professor who teaches classes to the crew, a Xerox technician, a fitness instructor/personal trainer and an NCIS agent. No sketchers though.
I wondered if the Navy would have a program similar to the Army Art Program, but Gerstenslager said they don’t have a dedicated sailor-artist on board. That’s too bad since the opportunities to document life on the ship with sketches seem endless — I could have spend all day roaming around and drawing everything on sight. With so many sailors on board, I bet there are more than one or two drawing enthusiasts already doing that — hint: if you’re one of them, e-mail me your sketches, I’d love to see them!
The number of sailors serving on the carrier made me think about all the people who have family ties to the Navy personnel. It must be hard for them to see their loved ones sail away when they go on deployment.
Gerstenslager said they started a Facebook page last year to help families stay in touch with the crew. It has 10,994 fans as I type this post, a few thousand less than the USS Carl Vinson. “We are trying to see who can outdo each other,” quipped Gerstenslager, whose team of petty officers produces a newspaper and a TV show they share on the page. “Anyone who becomes a fan on Facebook can see it,” she said.
I already clicked “like” and look forward to following our Puget Sound based carrier on Facebook.
It’s a fact: All Navy ships fly the First Navy Jack instead of the Union Jack to honor those who died in the Sept. 11 attacks. Related story: First Navy Jack flies until the end of war.
More sketches from the USS Abraham Lincoln: On Friday I’ll post the sketches I did on the flight deck of the carrier, where I met airman Kayde Williamson, 20, of Moses Lake. She said the experience on the ship is like “hanging out with 5,000 of your closest friends.”
August 24, 2010 at 6:46 PM
Sketched at 3:56 p.m. in Everett, WA. [Click sketch to view larger]
I live in Snohomish County and have visited Everett a number of times, but I didn’t know that an aircraft carrier, the USS Abraham Lincoln, had its port there — I just learned that during Seafair’s Fleet Week.
The warship, which employs more than 5,000 Navy personnel, just returned to Everett last week after several months of training exercises off the coast of Southern California. Public affairs officer Robyn Gerstenslager said it will go on deployment sometime in the fall.
After a visit to the ship this afternoon –stay tuned for more sketches- I drew this view from Pacific Avenue.
Everett residents must feel incredibly well protected having this awesome vessel in their backyard. I do too!
August 6, 2010 at 5:15 PM
Sketched Aug. 4, 4:28 p.m. [Click sketches to see larger]
I’ve recently been near cargo and cruise ships at Port of Seattle, so it seemed fitting to round up my experience of the waterfront with a visit to the war ships coming to Elliott Bay for Seafair’s Fleet Week.
On Wednesday, I met lieutenant junior grade Samuel P. Drake aboard the San Diego-based destroyer USS Kidd, which is docked at Pier 66. The 25-year-old officer, originally of Amherst, N.H., is looking forward to setting foot in Seattle, a city he knows only from the TV sitcom “Frasier.” But he will get just a few hours off the ship, one of three U.S. Navy vessels coming to Elliott Bay this year.
In two years of service, Drake has been to Japan, Thailand and Singapore. However, six-month stints on the 270-crew Navy ship are no cruise. Officers must be able to do any job on the ship, from driving it to operating the guns, said Drake. “I’ve definitely had times when I’ve worked 18-hour days.”
Drake is excited to meet visitors as he leads tours of the ship through the weekend. The ship is like a small town where everybody knows each other, he said. “It’s nice to see other folks.”
If you plan to take the tour, be prepared to go up and down steep stairs as you navigate through the narrow halls inside the vessel. You’ll also step on the helipad, see the “mess decks” where the sailors eat and take in the view from the bridge. Also, don’t forget to bring your Photo ID for the security check.
Fleet Week ships are open to the public Saturday (9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.) Information at seafair.com.
Sketched Aug. 5, 1:14 p.m. [Click sketches to see larger]
A Coast Guard boat patrols the waters near the USS Kidd at Pier 66.
August 5, 2010 at 4:14 PM
Sketched Aug. 4, 2:52 p.m. [Click sketch to see larger]
Seafair’s cornucopia of powerful machines really blows my mind. Last year I sketched the hydroplane races on Lake Washington and this year I’m turning my attention to the war ships docked on the waterfront for Fleet Week. Through the weekend, you can visit the vessels and talk to the U.S. Navy personnel. Don’t forget to bring your photo ID and be prepared to go up and down steep stairs.
Wednesday afternoon I caught a glimpse of the fleet from the terrace at Victor Steinbrueck Park.
More sketches coming Friday.
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