Wilson Barracks, Building 62718 in Weinstein Village, gained a new addition to its main hallway Jan. 31. Soldiers and Civilians gathered briefly to witness the unveiling of the portrait of Master Sgt. John Wilson, the Soldier after whom the barracks is named.
This is not the first time this painting was hung.
Sgt. 1st Class Nolan Nagaue, Noncommissioned Officers Academy unit historian and training management noncommissioned officer in charge, described the painting’s history as a “story of lost and found.”
“On May 16, 1952, the Counter Intelligence Corps Center, [Fort Holabird, Md.,] dedicated three buildings to the honor of three Soldiers for their acts of valor, Sergeant Woodrow G. Hunter, 1st Lieutenant Eldon L. Allen and Master Sergeant John R. Wilson. Each building had an oil painting of their Soldier at the dedication,” Nagaue explained. “Now here’s the actual intelligence gap, ‘Where did the painting go after this?’”
Mike Bigelow, U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command, or INSCOM, command historian, had the theory that the plaque and painting moved to Fort Huachuca when the Counter Intelligence School relocated here.
“From the Counter Intelligence Corps Center, the painting most likely went to the U.S. Army Intelligence Command, then to the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, when it then moved to Fort Meade [Md.] in 1974,” Nagaue said. “In 1976 the painting was used to memorialize the U.S. Army Intelligence Agency, or INTA, command suite.”
In 1977, the 902nd Military Intelligence Group took over the building, and subsequently the painting, after INTA and INSCOM merged. The 780th MI Bde., which now houses the facility, claimed the portrait remained a mystery — until it was properly identified by Bigelow.
“When the 780th [Military Intelligence Brigade] published its first issue of the BYTE, the unit newsletter, a challenge was issued to identify the original oil painting in the brigade headquarters,” Nagaue continued. “Of course, no one in the unit was able to identify it, until the INSCOM command historian [Bigelow] happened to glance at it.”
According to Lori Tagg, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence command historian, “The story about how it got here has to be the most interesting thing about it, and I’m just glad we were finally able to honor Master Sergeant Wilson this way and have his picture here in the building that’s memorialized for him.”
Wilson, 25th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment, was assigned to the 27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division in South Korea. Previously, he served in the Asiatic Pacific Theater during World War II. Wilson is the recipient of several decorations including the Silver Star, Purple Heart and Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.