Freedom Fighters: A.C. Gentry

A. C. Gentry is best known for his paintings of weathered historic buildings and scenes of the past. But, there is a part of the past that's missing from Gentry's paintings, his years as a soldier. Gentry enlisted in the army in May of 1944. Only 17 at the time, he was sent to the Philipines in preparation for the invasion of Japan, but instead, became part of the occupation forces.

Although Gentry served in two wars, it was six months after the close of WWII, that his life was in its greatest danger. An explosion at an ammunition dump killed 26 men and blew Gentry more than 200 feet away. Miraculously, he was able to get up and walk away from the accident.

Although Gentry is best known for his nostalgic East Texas paintings, there are scenes from the war that, he not only won't paint, he'd rather not remember. Gentry admits he saw terrible things, but would rather talk about the humorous things that happened like the commandeering of an ice cream machine that almost became an episode on the TV series "Mash."

In 1950, Gentry was sent to Korea as part of a National Guard Unit. He also served as an army recruiter for a number of years and tried to volunteer for Vietnam.

Although Gentry doesn't paint war, he knows enough about what it's like to feel strongly about the support of our troops in Iraq who are putting their lives at risk for our freedom.

Joan Hallmark, reporting.