An artist in Afghanistan


CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan – This morning, I was escorted to this British base, which connects to Camp Leatherneck and serves as the home for nearly all things related to aviation on both sides of the base.

I went to talk Ospreys with members of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 for a forthcoming story in Marine Corps Times. While I was there, however, I also met someone who appears to be an unofficial artist for I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

Cpl. John Coble works on a welcome sign for I MEF (Fwd.) in Afghanistan. (Photo by Dan Lamothe)

Cpl. John Coble works on a welcome sign for I MEF (Fwd.) in Afghanistan. (Photo by Dan Lamothe)

Cpl. John Coble, an aviation support mechanic with 3rd Marine Air Aircraft Wing (Fwd), was hard at work on a colorful sign for the base’s new Very Important Person helicopter pad. He was tasked with the job in part because his reputation as an artist is starting to get around the base.

In the last few months, Coble also has painted a welcome sign for Camp Leatherneck as a whole and he will soon paint a sign for 3rd MAW’s headquarters. Each sign is essentially a mural, with a colorful painted logo completed on a concrete barrier that is about eight feet high and 10 feet wide.

Coble said an instructor in one of his early military occupational specialty schools saw him drawing, and “ever since then, it’s sort of been something I do.” He was recommended to do his most recent projects after Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the senior enlisted leader with I MEF Fwd., put out a call asking for recommendations on who could do the work.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.


  1. My son is with I MEF Fwd, I was so happy to find a story about the area he is with! Thank you for taking the time to report back to those of us who have loved ones over there.

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