Local artist captures history of JFTB

Painting Courtesy of Bill Anderson

Sunset Beach Artist Bill Anderson has created a remarkable, heartfelt book, “The Heritage Series,” featuring 75 watercolors, pastels as well as pen and ink drawings of US Military Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos.

The art was commissioned by Brigadier General James Combs, the base’s Commanding Officer from 2005-2009.

The illustrations show buildings, aircraft (like F-18s, cargo planes, Blackhawk helicopters, even President George W. Bush’s helicopter), deployment and homecoming of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, events (like Wings, Wheels & Rotors), the Air Control Tower, training exercises, battle simulations, parades, Fourth of July celebrations, the chapel, military family get-togethers, bands and much more—displayed in color as well as in black-and-white drawings and sketches. Many were created on location and some were sketched on-site while visiting the unique place.

Through his painting, Anderson is able to capture emotion, patriotism, levity, seriousness and pride.

For over 25 years, he drove by the base (which supports Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Reservists, National Guard and other military) on his way to teaching art at McAuliffe Middle School in Los Alamitos.

In 2006, Anderson went to the base and was painting when General Combs approached him and got the idea to preserve the base’s rich history through art.

Later that year, Heather Hagan, a former student of Anderson’s at McAuliffe and a writer for The Sun, invited him to paint at the base so she could do a story about it.

General Combs, who wrote a preface for the book, said when he first arrived on the base as a Colonel in 1995, “I thought I stepped back in time to 1945. It literally hadn’t changed in any significant way since then…as during World War II, it continues to protect America as a training and mobilization base. It also helps in times of natural disaster … I wanted Bill to preserve this special place, using his colorful style.”

The General retired on July 4, 2009, after 43 years in an Army uniform. His son, Vincent, also served in the Army.

Anderson dedicates his book to Military Veterans and their families. “We owe these fellow Americans so much. They’ve saved this country time and time again. God Bless them and their families and God Bless America,” said Anderson, whose father and uncle served in the Army.

Much of his artwork is exhibited around the base and images are reproduced to benefit the facility’s Morale, Welfare & Recreation, which supports the military and their families.

For more information, contact Bill Anderson at aagcollection@aol.com or visit Anderson Art Gallery. It’s open from 1 – 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays and 1 – 6 p.m., Sundays.