KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Eight National Cartoonists Society artists drew animated laughter and good humor from military members and civilians at Kandahar Airfield Sept. 6, 2013, during a USO tour of Afghanistan.
Family Circus cartoonist Jeff Keane, B.C.’s Mason Mastroianni, Mad Magazine’s Tom Richmond, Ray Alma and Ed Steckley, Punderstatements’ Bruce Higdon, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Michael Ramirez, and Paul Combs made the tour.
Sgt. Randall Green of the 370th Sapper Company, based at Bamberg, Germany, said he enjoyed the visit with Higdon, a retired Army officer.
“This is me smiling, which a lot of these guys don’t get to see very often,” the Texarkana, Arkansas, native said while showing his picture to friends. “It’s just awesome to have a Desert Storm veteran and famous artist actually drawing my picture. It’s a very memorable moment.”
For Chief Warrant Officer 4 Randall Schlensig of the Nebraska Army National Guard assigned to the Center for Army Lessons Learned, it was also a chance to renew an old acquaintance.
Schlensig was deployed to Contingency Operating Base Adder in Talil, Iraq, in 2010 during a similar USO cartoonist tour and Mastroianni drew him and his wife into a B.C. cartoon.
“He remembered the original because it was a wedding present,” the Anthem, Ariz., native said. “This one is for our second anniversary.”
Richmond, president of the NCS, is on his fifth tour and his second to Afghanistan.
“It never ceases to amaze me how much people appreciate us coming here and doing this,” the Burnsville, Minn., resident said. “It’s far more rewarding to me. The thing that impresses me the most of the cartoonists is that they know it’s not about them. We’re not sacrificing anything. We’re doing what we love for those who are doing the sacrificing.”
The approximately 500-member organization teams with the USO for several visits per year, although many are to veterans’ homes and hospitals in the United States, Richmond said.
“There’s a waiting list for people to come do this,” he said.