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Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

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Jack's Back - Depot's star combat artist to receive award

By - | | January 30, 2004

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A Depot Marine has been selected to receive the Col. John W. Thomason Award for best Marine Corps art in 2003.

Sgt. Jack Carrillo, a combat illustrator from the Combat Visual Information Center here, was chosen as the award winner by the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, according to Gary Solis, the foundation's award committee chairman.

"When they called me about the award, I thought it was a travel claim (issue)," said Carrillo. "Once they explained that I won an award, I was surprised."

The foundation presents yearly awards for categories including best book, best photography, best article, best art among others pertaining to the Marine Corps.

The award is named for Col. John W. Thomason, well-known illustrator and writer in the 1920s and 1930s, according to Solis.

Carrillo is the award's 12th recipient since its conception in 1984.

"Although it's a yearly award, we don't see fit to present one every year," said Solis. "Only artwork that truly merits this award is recognized, and Sgt. Carrillo has produced the high standard of art we reward."

Charles Grow, curator of art at the Marine Corps Museum in Washington, D.C., Solis, and other committee members selected Carrillo for the award after seeing the art he produced while in Iraq during operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I saw an article on Sgt. Carrillo in the San Diego Union Tribune," said Solis. "It showed one sample of his work and I noticed his skill, so I asked Charles Grow if he was familiar with Carrillo's work. He too had taken note of Carrillo's talent."

Solis then recalled Carrillo's work with the combat utility uniform plates, which are the basic design of the new digital camouflage uniform, and some of his other work.

"I really feel artists are born with a natural vision, which I know I have," said Carrillo. "But it takes time and education and lots of people to help develop an artist. I couldn't have done this alone."

After meeting with Grow and the other committee members, Carrillo was chosen to receive the award, which is a lavish plaque and $1,000.

Carrillo moves to the East Coast in June and said he and his wife will spend the prize money to help with the transition.

Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, will present the award to Carrillo in June at a black-tie dinner in D.C. Retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Christmas, president of the MCHF, will also be on hand.

"It is terrific to see an enlisted Marine honored by a national organization and awarded by the Commandant," said Solis. "He follows a long line of distinguished artists such as Tom Lea and Col. Donna Neary, both phenomenal Marine Corps artists."

Carrillo was awestruck when he discovered the prestige of the Thomason, and had trouble expressing his joy.

"I had no idea this award was such a big deal," said Carrillo. "It's such an honor to receive something like this."

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