Thank you, Chris Demarest…

Click here to read our interview with
Chris Demarest [2/29/2012]
At a special ceremony, Chris was presented with a special Medal of Honor from the DAR for his recent portrait work at the Women's Memorial at Arlington. He's wearing his US Coast Guard Auxiliary uniform.

On March 10th, 2012, Chris was presented with a special Medal of Honor from the DAR for his portrait work at the Women's Memorial at Arlington. He's wearing his US Coast Guard Auxiliary uniform

. . . for allowing us a peek into your multi-faceted life as children’s book illustrator, editorial artist, dad, fire-fighter, hurricane hunter, coast guard artist, and eye-witness to the myriad duties of service men and women, both here and abroad. And for embodying how change can effect profound insights into life, and art.

Chris signing a copy of his book "Arlington" at the opening of The Greatest Generation exhibit, at the Women's Memorial, Arlington Cemetery

Chris signing his book, "Arlington" at the opening of The Greatest Generation exhibit, at the Women's Memorial, Arlington Cemetery

A Saudi-Arabian exchange student posts his appreciation

A Saudi-Arabian exchange student displays his note

What follows below is a Countdown Wall of Thanks to Chris Demarest, for sharing his artistic career with us.

Interspersed among these memorable images are a mix of photos; preliminary sketches; plus comments from Memorial visitors over the world. Enjoy.


selections from the exhibit
The Greatest Generation: A Tribute

by Chris L. Demarest

[click on any image to enlarge]


Marie Mitchell, WASP.  Stillwater, TX,  1944.  One of the few women pilots who lost her life while serving her country.


A WAVE,  spinning T-6 propeller, Texas 1943


Elizabeth Smith, WASP

Ada Neil, US Army WAC nurse. This is Bobbie Miller‘s mom.

I was put in touch with Mitch Zuchoff, the author of Lost In Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War 2.  WAC Margaret Hastings was the sole female of three survivors in the operation. This is from an amazing photograph of Margaret, sent by Mitch.

LTJG Jane Louise Kandeigh, navy nurse.  She was the first woman on Iwo Jima

General Benjamin O. Davis, one of the Tuskegee Airmen

Seaman First Class Thomas Allen Towles, USN

Griff Holland, P-47 fighter pilot pilot, Burma 1943.  This portrait started my Greatest Generation series. He (now age 88) stopped by the Women’s Memorial to view his painting on display.
A Japanese-American family were looking at it, honored to meet the pilot in the painting — the same pilot who fought the Japanese in WWII. In a touching gesture, the woman gave Griff a paper
origami heart.


US Army Corporal/MP Stephen S. Bendetto,  Egypt 1943


 This is Captain Helen Marlowe, USMC, an instructor in chemical warfare training at Camp Lejeune, 1943-45. She died of a "lung condition" at age 35 in 1947. She received the American Campaign and WWII Victory medals.

Captain Helen Marlowe, USMC, an instructor in chemical warfare training at Camp Lejeune, 1943-45.  She died of a “lung condition” at age 35 in 1947.  She received the American Campaign and WWII Victory medals. 

A young B-24 navigator who survived some harrowing missions over Germany.  His daughter viewed this portrait in person the other night. It was nice for the both of us.


A WAC communications specialist


Sgt. Max McClure, tail gunner and bomb loader

This WAC still lives!


An army nurse was always a welcome sight

The 6888 (“Six-Triple-Eight”) Battalion.
Such great faces. Every one has a story to tell.
GI Langland, in France


Henry Chu, machine gun and mortar instructor, US Army, Newfoundland, 1943. This is Joy Chu‘s dad.


This is NPR reporter Renee Montaigne‘s dad (right) with his buddy, in Long Beach. Note the USO sign in the background. The friend was killed two months later at Pearl Harbor.

Lorraine Rodgers WASP (now 91) at age 18, Stillwater TX, filling out her logbook, post-flight. Note the rolled up pant legs of her zoot suit, and penny loafers. Three cushions plus her chute allowed her to see over the instrument panel. What a pixie!


US Navy ensign Ray. His daughter poses with his portrait.
The young boy with whom I posed with a copy of my firefighting book now has a new perspective on his grandfather, Ensign Ray.


Charlie. For Merle and Marlis, my Canadian friends


I spent an hour talking with a Polish American couple, Antonia and Stanley, who fought separately in the Polish Army.  Stanley no longer had his WW2 photos. Here he is today, at 92.



In 1945, there was no serum for poisonous snakes.  The habu was one of the deadliest and responsible for killing 125 soldiers in Okinawa.


Capt Robert Wood, 11th Airborne, U.S. Army


Ensign Ludtke


Beauty knows no boundaries, even in war time Europe


Holding Bombing Run Camera

She is holding the bombing run camera. Say “cheese”!


“Somewhere in Europe”





There, in the darkness of the original photo, sits a puppy on the gas tank, previously unseen to my eyes before.
Chaplain Liteky, US Army


[Can you tell Chris likes dogs too? — JC]


Fast forward to the present:  Chris completed the following portrait of LCDR Regina Mills, whose memorial service was held at  Arlington on March 8, 2012:

LCDR_Mills, sharp-shooter

LCDR Regina Mills  [click to enlarge]

Paul Dussault:  I apologize for this huge post but I needed to do it. . . . This has been an UNBELIEVABLE week!

As some of you may or may not know, I flew off of CARL VINSON (currently deployed to the North Arabian Sea in support of OEF) this past Sunday (March 4th) via Bahrain, Kuwait, Washington DC and got back home to San Diego on Monday.

I then flew back to Washington DC with my lovely bride on Wednesday for the funeral of LCDR Regina Mills, which took place Thursday the 8th at Arlington National Cemetery.

For those who know me, you know how much she meant to me and how she will be sorely missed by so many.  I found out about her passing while I was deployed, so I’ve had plenty of time to dwell on that and many other things in my life.

Her funeral was appropriately a grand event and after it, many of her family and friends gathered at Sines Irish Pub and toasted many times to her memory. She would have approved I’m sure.

The following day I wanted to be able to take Suzie around DC a bit as she had never been there without it being buried in snow. During our journey that day we decided to go to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Regina’s honor.

When we walked in, there were many beautiful and fitting tributes to the many women who have sacrificed for our nation. As I looked around my breath was suddenly stolen from me as I locked in on a painting of Regina painted from a photo of her on deck taken during our time together on NIMITZ.

I asked the docent there how I could get a hold of the artist to which she replied “He’s here right now, I’ll get him”.

A few moments later he (Chris Demarest) appeared and I began to tell him of my friendship with Regina, and quickly recounted some of the times we shared on the two ships we had served together, and the deep respect I possess for her, and all she had accomplished in her short life.

I know I was emotional, and all of a sudden Chris told me “take the painting, it’s yours, it is my gift to you”.

Needless to say, I had a meltdown right there in front of him and Suzie. I still cannot get over his kindness and I’m comforted by knowing down deep that this entire encounter was NOT accidental.

I’ve never been big on God, although I consider myself a “quietly spiritual” person, but there is no doubt that I was being guided by an outside force. 

I like to think of it as Regina still watching out for me, just like she did while we served together.  I will miss her always,  but know I am better for having known her.

Thank you Chris, for your part in this story, and for the gift you so selflessly gave me without thought. I will never forget your kindness and generosity. As my wife so eloquently puts it: “You are healing wounds with your art.”

Keep doing what you do. For the rest of my friends, please check out his page “Military Portraits by Chris Demarest”  on Facebook. The attached photo was taken by Suzie at the memorial after he gave me the painting.


As this is an unfunded project, contributions of any size are welcome. For official recognition, mail to:

Chris Demarest
Women in Military Service For America Foundation
200 N. Glebe Rd  Suite 400
Arlington VA 22203

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you have an image of a friend or loved one from WW II, the Korean War, Vietnam, or the Middle East you’d like painted, feel free to contact Chris L. Demarest directly. His fee is $500 for an acrylic portrait (16×20); fee slightly higher for oils. 

Contact:   Chris L. Demarest


For additional perspective on the Greatest Generation, check out this video by the daughter of WWII veteran Arthur “Dutch” Schultz , a paratrooper during D-Day [special thanks to Anne Rockwell for finding this]:

Click here for our Got Story? interview with Chris.




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3 responses to “Thank you, Chris Demarest…

  1. Pingback: Artist Chris Demarest brings World War II to life at Jones Library in Amherst – – artists online

  2. Pingback: Artist Chris Demarest brings World War II to life at Jones Library in Amherst – – artists online | Fonte English

  3. Pingback: Oh, The Places He Goes! | got story countdown

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