Artist Bryan Mosier said he had to make repeated attempts to capture the drama and conviction of the moment in his portrait of Greenup County native and Medal of Honor recipient John Walton Collier moments before making the ultimate sacrifice for his nation.
“That was one thing I wanted to make sure ... you knew exactly how intense and dramatic it was,” said Mosier, an art teacher at Greenup County High School who has been teaching locally for the past 18 years.
To convey the moment, Mosier said he focused on the emotion shown by the men in the painting, from the expression on Collier’s face to the body posture of other soldiers, “one with his shoulders slumped,” and another raising a hand to either shield the blast or prevent seeing what he knows is about to happen.
Mosier said he met with Collier’s nephew, Earl Ray Hanshaw, to review what was known about Collier’s final actions, and then began painting the scene. The process was similar to the strategy for a similar portrait of Greenup County’s surviving Medal of Honor recipient, Ernie West, Mosier said, although the task ultimately proved to be more difficult.
“It took a few more tries to get what I wanted,” he said.
According to his Medal of Honor citation, Collier gave his own life to save others after fighting bravely during a battle at Chindoing-ni, Korea on Sept. 19, 1950. Collier, 21, a native of Worthington, was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman in recognition of his valor.
Collier’s surviving relatives were on hand Tuesday morning to receive Mosier’s painting as it was officially unveiled at the Wurtland Volunteer Fire Department after the artwork was commissioned by members of a local Medal of Honor commission, including Soc Clay and Tom Clay of the Kentucky Outdoor Press Association.
Clay said only five prints of Mosier’s painting are available at this time, with all sale proceeds going to a scholarship fund dedicated to each of Greenup County’s three high schools. For more information about obtaining a copy of the print, call Tom Crump at (606) 473-7973.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.