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  • Richard D. Gentile

    The painting by R.G. Smith “Enterprise on Yankee Station” can trace its history back to a visit to Enterprise on Yankee station in Vietnam between 1965 – 1867. During combat at that time Enterprise hosted many visitors, news reporters and artists, the latter part of an ongoing program allowing artists to illustrate and paint naval combat art. Mr. Smith stayed aboard for about a week and was allowed to capture in water color many flight deck scenes of Enterprise crew and aircraft in their mission to support allied ground forces Vietnam. Among the water color images captured by Smith were those of flight deck and hanger bay work activities from dramatic launch and recovery scenes to scenes of diligent jet engine maintenance to a long series of images of individual sailors performing their various, rigorous exertions common to 24-7 carrier combat operations. The really interesting find would not be so much the finished art reproduction “Enterprise on Yankee Station”, though beautiful, but the myriad images that Smith painted as part of his research, magnificent individual images in minute detail of those toiling, heroic sailors launching and recovering. That would be the find! The artists would leave the ship with their research prints and sketches and return to their studios to produce their masterpiece larger paintings. One final note about the painting “Enterprise on Yanknee Station”: Smith’s painting is based on a photograph, one of hundreds taken by shipboard photographic services and no doubt reviewed by Smith during his period of research aboard ship. I own a large print of his art and a print of the Navy photograph it is based on. Smith got it right. Study the image closely. Note the early dawn sunlight reflecting off the island off the starboard side. Smith captured the moment Enterprise made history as the first nuclear task force in history to engage in combat. The real name of this image should be “December Dawn—USS Enterprise Enters The Fight December 2, 1965.” God Bless my fellow shipmates; you did well what you were tasked to do! Richard D. Gentile, USS Enterprise CVA (N) 65, 1965-67.

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