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Last Rank
Lieutenant Commander
Last Primary NEC
165X-Special Duty Officer - Public Affairs
Last Rating/NEC Group
Line Officer
Primary Unit
1944-1945, USS Tennessee (BB-43)
Service Years
1942 - 1945
Lieutenant Commander
Lieutenant Commander

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember DRAPER, William (Bill), LCDR.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Hopedale, Massachusetts
Last Address
Hopedale Village Cemetery
Hopedale, Worcester County
Massachusetts, USA

Date of Passing
Oct 26, 2003
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin

 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback US Naval Reserve Honorable Discharge Order of the Golden Dragon Blue Star

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

LCDR William Franklin DRAPER
WWII - Combat Artist - USNR


Bill Draper was commissioned by the US Navy as one of five official WWII combat artists. He painted 69 descriptive wartime scenes between 1942-1945, many of them were featured in National Geographic magazine. It wasn't easy being a combat artist - conditions were difficult and often dangerous. Bill landed with the second wave of marines at Bougainville and while assigned to the USS Yorktown he painted a series of paintings on the first air attack on Palau. He covered the landings at Hollandia and the air strike on Truk.

Draper covered the invasion of Saipan and Guam aboard the USS Tennessee depicting the powerful destruction that hit this island. While he was aboard, the battleship Tennessee was hit three times. He landed and remained on the island of Saipan for eighteen days recording the bitter struggle and eventual success of this action. At Guam he landed with the assault troops under heavy enemy fire.

William Franklin Draper (December 24, 1912 - October 26, 2003) was a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy, and an American painter.

Early life:
Draper was born in Hopedale, Massachusetts on December 24, 1912. His parents were Clare H. Draper and Mathilda Engamn Draper. After first studying piano, he decided to instead, choose painting as his career. Draper attended the Pomfret School in Connecticut, and later Harvard University. After Harvard, he attended the National Academy of Design in New York, and the Cape Art School in Massachusetts. Following his education, he went to Spain to study briefly, and then moved to France, where he attended the Grand Cahumiere. In 1937, he studied sculpture with George Demetrius, a Boston sculptor, and Jon Corbino in New York.

Naval career:
On 1 July 1942, at the age of 29, Draper entered the Naval Reserves as a Lieutenant (junior grade). After his initial training, Draper was assigned to illustrate training material at the Anti-Submarine Warfare Unit in Boston. Following his service in Boston, he transferred into the Naval Art Section, and was dispatched to Alaska, where he spent much of the next year painting in the Aleutian Islands. He was in Amchitka when the Japanese invaded during World War II, and his paintings depict the attacks, as seen from his close-range foxhole. Draper painted while dealing with the wind and Arctic weather, which made painting difficult, as he had to wear gloves to keep from getting frostbite.

After Draper returned from Alaska, he was requested as the artist for the portrait of Rear Admiral J.R. Beardall, then Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. Following the completion of the portrait, he served in a variety of other areas in the Pacific, and commissioned to paint portraits of several other admirals.

Draper also landed with the second wave of marines at Bougainville. After the Bougainville Campaign, Draper was assigned to the USS Yorktown (CV-10), and while on duty, painted the series of air attacks on Palau, the landings at Hollandia, and the airstrikes on Truk island. Draper also covered invasions of Saipan and Guam aboard the USS Tennessee (BB-43). During his tour on the Tennessee, the ship was hit three times by enemy fire, and they were forced to land at Guam.

Draper was awarded the Bronze Star for his meritorious work as a combat artist in the Aleutians and under enemy attack in the South Pacific. He left the Navy in 1945 as a Lieutenant Commander. Returning to painting, he became a well-known American artist, with subjects ranging from John F. Kennedy (painted in 1962), Richard M. Nixon, (1981), the Shah of Iran (painted in 1967), James Michener (1979), Henry Kaiser, and Dr. Richard E. Winter (1992).

In 1999, Draper received a lifetime achievement award from the Portrait Society of America.

Draper died on October 26, 2003 at the age of 90.
Other Comments:
Not Specified
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 Duty Stations/ Advancement Schools
US NavySchool Assignments - StaffUS Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)USS Yorktown (CV-10)
  1942-1942, Boston Navy Yard, MA, Receiving Station (NRS)
  1942-1942, Submarine/Anti-Submarine Schools
  1942-1942, USS Arthur Middleton (AP-55)
  1943-1943, NAF Amchitka, Alaska
  1943-1943, US Naval Academy Annapolis (Faculty Staff)
  1943-1943, Commander South Pacific Area and South Pacific Force (COMSOPAC)
  1944-1944, USS Yorktown (CV-10)
  1944-1945, USS Tennessee (BB-43)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1943 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Naval attack of Truk (Operation Hailstone)
  1943-1943 Aleutians Islands Campaign (1942-43)/Recovery and Occupation of Amchitka
  1943-1943 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Treasury-Bougainville Operation
  1944-1944 New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)/Operation Reckless
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Saipan
  1944-1944 Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign (1944)/Battle of Guam
 Reflections on Service
Please describe who or what influenced your decision to join the Navy.
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Can you recount a particular incident from your service, which may or may not have been funny at the time, but still makes you laugh?
What profession did you follow after your military service and what are you doing now? If you are currently serving, what is your present occupational specialty?
Based on your own experiences, what advice would you give to those who have recently joined the Navy?
In what ways has TogetherWeServed.com helped you remember your military service and the friends you served with.
 Colleges Attended 
Harvard University
  1930-1934, Harvard University
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  U.S. Navy Combat Artists of WWII
  William Franklin Draper (1912-2003)20
  William F. Draper, background material
  William F. Draper, service dates
  Jun 28, 1977, Interview with William Draper
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