Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
With less than a year left on his active duty contract, Lance Cpl. Rob Bates, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, joined the small community within the Marine Corps known as Marine Corps combat artists.
Bates said he first heard about an opening by his supervisor earlier this year. He immediately got in touch with the History Division at the Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Va. about the duty assignment.
“I figured this was my saving grace,” said Bates, who had been in trouble before but is using this current assignment to get back on track. “I needed to submit a career bio. I was honest about my record and getting in trouble.”
Bates got in touch with Mike Fay, a retired Marine who worked as a combat illustrator for the Marine Corps Museum for the last 10 years.
“He gave me a lot of good advice about my work,” said Bates. “He basically told me that I should develop my own style.”
Bates said that he tries to capture the humanity of the Marines and war in his portraits. Many of his portraits are of wounded warriors as he believes that no Marine’s story should go untold.
“My favorite portrait is ‘Tired Eyes'," he said. “The eyes represent the strain inflicted upon a nation through years of fighting.”
After the Marine Corps, Bates plans on continuing his education and one day becoming an art teacher.