Depot set to bid farewell to valued friend, artist
By Lance Cpl. Justin J. Shemanski
| | June 11, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
Former Marines forever hold a bond with the men and women who earn the honor of wearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor after them.Whether they serve just one enlistment or retire after 20 years, many of these former warriors still yearn to be in the presence of the elite organization they were once a part of. Some of these dedicated veterans find ways to work as civilians on the bases they were once stationed at, and many of them make a new home right here on Parris Island. But, they are often overcome with a sense of unrest, not knowing what to do when they are away from the Marine brotherhood they are so familiar with. Bud Wass, who enlisted in 1958 and spent 26 years in the Marine Corps, has spent the last three years painting murals and designing various exhibits at the Parris Island Museum, adding his personal touch to Marine Corps history. After countless, creative hours of hard work, Wass' friendly personality and artistic talents will again part ways with the Corps this July."I really enjoy what I do here, but I need to do some things for myself and for my family now," said Wass. "I'm just glad I had the opportunity to come back to work here and be able to use my artistic knowledge."According to Wass, many of the scenes in his murals come from his own experiences. While in the military, Wass was involved with the blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis, served with the 2nd Recon Bn., Sixth Marines during the Vietnam War, and also served a tour on the drill field here in the mid-seventies. He also worked at the museum while on active duty."A lot of the murals that are in the museum today are ones that I did back when I was stationed here from 1985-87," said Wass. "I was put in charge of the guards posted at the museum. I didn't always have a lot to do, so I'd come in and paint."Painting, along with other forms of art, is a hobby of Wass' that dates back to when he was in grade school."When I was a kid, I was always doodling," he said. "I hated school, so I'd sit there not listening and drawing pictures while the teachers were talking. It's stuck with me ever since." Perhaps it was his love of art that led him to the museum again. Wass was living in Memphis, Tenn., when he was contacted by an old friend - Dr. Stephen Wise, Parris Island Museum curator, who had some good news."I still kept in touch with Dr. Wise after I left South Carolina," said Wass. "I was doing some work for him through contract and purchasing here, and one day he called to tell me of a job opening at the museum. I put in for it and found out I was hired soon after."Now that Wass' time here turns from weeks to days, there is a feeling of sadness in the air.Alton Kohn, an information receptionist at the Parris Island Museum who served in the Corps for more than 22 years, said he is going to miss Wass, not just because of how much he does for the museum, but also because they both share the bond of being former Marines."He was a great Marine and still is," Kohn said. "We served in different eras, but we could talk for hours about our different experiences. When he leaves, the espirit de corps will definitely change around here ... he contributes so much to our team and will be missed."Wise, who has known Wass for nearly 20 years, is also dreading the thought of losing a good friend and a key member of the museum's staff."He's an invaluable asset to the museum here," said Wise. "Bud has a fantastic artistic talent that he uses all over the museum, and he has that great Marine Corps attitude. You can have him work on a project, and he will put all he has into it to ensure it's the best. I understand why he's leaving, but he will still be missed. He's a big part of the museum."As Wass finishes up his last projects with the museum and prepares to move on, he insists that he will always find time to come back."My wife, Alice, and I are going to pack up in our new travel trailer and go on a cross-country trip to visit our children and my father and do some of the things we haven't had a chance to do in a long time," said Wass. "Then we will figure out where we are going to live, probably Florida, which will work out great for coming back here."Wass said they will be going back and forth from Florida to New England, where a lot of their family lives, and that will have them passing through the Parris Island area at least twice a year."I'm really going to miss being here, but I'll always come back," he said. "I have so many friends here, a lot of them from when I was on active duty, so I will always stop in and see how things are going, and if the museum has anything for me to work on, I'd be happy to pull my travel trailer to the side and work."A farewell for Wass will be held at Traditions June 23 from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. for all Depot personnel. For more information, call Angela Aguilar at 228-2951.