UNITED STATES ARMY PAYS TRIBUTE TO
PULITZER PRIZE WINNING CARTOONIST
NEWPORT BEACH, California For more than 50 years, Bill Mauldin provided inspiration to U.S. soldiers with his cartoons depicting military life. Sergeant Major of the Army Jack L. Tilley visited Mauldin on 19 Septemberto try and return the favor.
Tilley presented Mauldin with a personal letter from Army Chief of Staff General Eric K. Shinseki, a hardbound book with notes from other senior Army leaders and several celebrities to include Walter Cronkite , Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks. He also promoted Mauldin to the honorary rank of first sergeant and presented him SMA and Pentagon 9-11 coins.
Mauldin is most famous for the World War II cartoons "Willie and Joe," which depicted daily life for the average dirty, worn-out infantrymen. The cartoons were published in Stars and Stripes. Mauldin served as an enlisted man during the war.
Mauldin, whose health is failing, couldn't respond verbally to the gifts, but his eyes were attentive and alert as Tilley praised his support to the Army and its veterans. "He did so much to lift the spirits of our soldiers in World War II and our nation in the years since," Tilley said. "He is truly a national treasure. I am so honored to have been able to give him these small tokens of our appreciation. We can never say or do enough to pay him back for all he has given us." Mauldin's son Nat and his wife were on hand during Tilley's visit. Mauldin, now 80, is living in a nursing home in Orange County, Calif. He won his first Pulitzer Prize before his 23rd birthday in 1945 and second in 1959.
He joined the Army in 1940 and began producing his cartoons for the 45th Division News. He took part in the invasions of Sicily and Italy in 1943. In 1944, Stars and Stripes began featuring his "Willie and Joe" cartoons. An Ernie Pyle article about Mauldin prompted United Feature Syndicate to pick up his work in 1944. Shortly afterward, Mauldin's characters were featured in newspapers around the nation. In an interview shortly after the war, Mauldin described his work.
"I drew pictures for and about soldiers because I knew what their life was like and understood their gripes," he said. "I wanted to make something out of the humorous situations which come up even when you don't think life could be any more miserable." Although he is known for his "Willie and Joe" cartoons, Mauldin has been featured on the cover of Time magazine, wrote the best-selling novel "Up Front" and went on to a civilian career in journalism. He also starred with Audie Murphy in the 1950 film "The Red Badge of Courage." Bill Mauldin retired in 1992.
Christian Science Monitor 25 SEPTEMBER 2002