Lieutenant JG Hoyt giving a painting to Admiral Richardson of the Sixth Fleet.
“When I was twenty-three, I was in the Navy on the staff of the Commander of the Sixth Fleet, the Mediterranean Fleet. It was the late 60’s, during Vietnam, but things were also hot in the Middle East. It was the ’67 war with Israel and Egypt. We had quite a presence over there. Aircraft carriers and submarines. Fifty US ships. There was a lot of support.
My official title was Communications Launch Officer. I was a part of the staff who handled the thousands of messages coming in though the teletypewriters. As a junior officer, I stood watch and managed the enlisted people who were actually doing all the work. I also decoded top secret messages, then hand-delivered them and sat while they were read. All of the paperwork had to be dealt with as top secret.
There was a public affairs officer on the ship who came up with this idea of having me go around the fleet to create paintings of the fleet activities. The mission was really just a lot of flag waving. NATO and US presence. We were basically there to intervene if Russia stepped out of line. The navy had musicians who just played music, that was their job. There was a band on the aircraft carrier that went into port a few days early and gave concerts. It softened up the locals to the US soldiers who would soon arrive.
The idea was to accompany the musicians with paintings of what was going on out in the field. He sold the idea to the Admiral, and I was sent out on an aircraft carrier, a destroyer, an amphibious assault ship, everything except a submarine. I had a set of orders from the Admiral, and everyone did what he said. The set of orders was sent ahead and read something like this.
‘Render Lieutenant JG Hoyt whatever assistance required for the completion of his duty.’
I would arrive on a destroyer, and the captain always met me. ‘What can we do? Where would you like the boat?’ I was overwhelmed. ‘No. No. No.’ I said. Can’t you just see it? ‘Move the boat over there.’ Then all hell breaks loose.”
To read more stories from Hoyt regarding his work at Maine Art, click here – Artist Insights – William B. Hoyt.
Hoyt’s one-man show will be running through September 5 at Maine Art Shows in Kennebunk. We are open from 11am – 5pm every day. Please come by and visit.
You can also view his entire show online at William Hoyt at Maine Art Shows.
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