View Full Version : Vet designs cards to memorialize Marines killed in Iraq

11-02-06, 08:56 AM
Vet designs cards to memorialize Marines killed in Iraq

By Linda McIntosh

November 2, 2006

Al Davis, a Vietnam veteran, wanted a way to honor his friend's 18-year-old son who was killed in Iraq.

“I wanted to do something for the family – something to help them heal,” said Davis, 58.

Davis also needed some healing himself and naturally turned to his art.

He was going to make a memorial for his friend's son, but then he thought of the man's fallen buddies.

He came up with a list from the Department of Defense of 692 Marines who were killed in Iraq from March 19, 2003, to March 19, 2006, the date he chose because he considers it the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He wanted to memorialize them all.

Davis already made prints honoring Marines collectively and wanted to do something more personal.

So he inscribed their names on two decks of cards.

Davis knows those names by heart now.

“He must have rechecked the spelling of the names 100 times to make sure they were right,” said Robert Sechler, Davis' longtime friend.

Davis calls the set Fallen Warriors Playing Cards.

“I just want people to look at them and appreciate the sacrifice these kids have made, regardless of what they think of the war,” Davis said.

The cards include the name, age and rank of each Marine and where he is from.

“Each one tugs at your heart,” Davis said.

The cards are filled with Marine Corps symbolism and art.

The box cover shows the commander in chief surrounded by Marines honoring fallen warriors.

“This is a way to remember,” Davis said.

In the background, the eagle, globe and anchor have been struck by lightning, and the globe has turned to gold, emitting a bright light. Fallen warriors are walking into the light. The words Semper Fi are on the bottom.

The face cards of one deck show the Marine Corps commandants from 1775 to present. The other deck depicts the sergeant majors from 1957 on.

Davis has been working on the cards for 2 1/2 years.

“It's a mission for him. He's doing this from his heart,” said Angelia Barlow, who works at Frame Designs & Gallery in Oceanside, where the cards are sold.

Davis isn't sure where his ideas came from, but they often hit him in the middle of the night, sometimes keeping him up for several days and nights until he's fleshed them out on his computer screen.

“I started with a black background and gold border and the design took on a life of its own,” Davis said.

He used a photo of his squad from Vietnam for one of the backdrops.

For many people, the theme of the cards makes them too serious to play with.

“It's a tribute to the Marines, and you can't take it lightly. I wouldn't want to shuffle them and bend the edges,” said Dean Head, who owns one of the sets.

Davis said he's gotten all kinds of reactions to the cards.

“A friend brought them to a poker club and he said the guys liked them, but one woman said they were ghoulish,” Davis said.

Davis brought 30 sets to the Wounded Warrior Center at Camp Pendleton.

“A lot of Marines are keeping the cards to honor their fellow comrades, but they're not taking them out and playing with them,” said Staff Sgt. Lawrence Sommer.

Linda McIntosh, (760) 752-6756; linda.mcintosh@tlnews.net