Painting by Jason Nicholson, “Operation Red Wing”,oil,30″x40″,Private Collection
Jason Nicholson’s “Operation Red Wing” represents the courage and professionalism of Navy SEAL’s in the midst of an ambush.
At first glance the viewer instantly gets the sense that this is a painting of a battle scene or a mission. The setting of the painting is during the day in a very mountainous area. There are a total of four soldiers in the painting. The closest soldier to the viewer, and the center of the painting due to his larger size, is holding a sniper rifle in his hand and looks very focused, as if he is in the process of taking a shot. He has an American Flag patch on his left shoulder so the unit is American. The second soldier is leaning up against a stump and reloading his weapon. The third soldier is holding is gun in one arm and getting something out of his backpack at the same time. He also appears to be yelling some type of order to the others. The fourth and final soldier is in the background lying on the ground near a rock. He is either dead, or he is using the rock as cover because the cloud of dirt beyond him could imply that he is being shot at. In the distant background there is a helicopter flying. Next to the helicopter, above the soldiers, is a crest of a type of U.S. Military Armed Forces. The crest consists of an anchor and trident connected with an eagle holding them.
The anchor and trident in the crest are representative of the ocean so it can be inferred that the soldiers are affiliated with the Navy. The small number of men in the unit either means that the others were killed, or since there doesn’t appear to be dead bodies or blood, that it is a unit of Navy SEAL’s because SEAL’s operate in small numbers. The mountainous background means that the soldiers were in Afghanistan fighting the War on Terror. They appear to be in the midst of a gun fight judging by the intense focus of the sniper, the reloading of the second soldier’s weapon, the face of the third soldier yelling the assumed orders, and the cloud of dirt above the fourth soldier which shows that he is being shot at by the enemy. The helicopter in the background can be assumed to be American because those types of helicopters are used to transport soldiers and are equipped with machine gun turrets, which can help attack enemies from the air. The downward tilt of the helicopter and the nose pointing towards the soldiers implies it is coming to rescue them.
The first soldier is the main focus of the painting because this painting was created for him in memory of this event. The soldier, Marcus Luttrell, was the lone survivor of this mission where 300 Taliban ambushed his unit in the mountains of Afghanistan. The soldiers fought valiantly and managed to kill most of their 300 attackers before they were air lifted out. The other three soldiers died of their wounds while Luttrell escaped with his life.
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