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New Bern Photographer Honors Vietnam Veterans

If you’ve met Tom McCabe, you know that he warmly welcomes new members to PPNC. He is encouraging, supportive, and knowledgeable. He is also a Marine who proudly wears the symbol and will tell you that it’s the family crest. (He’s not kidding, either.) In knowing what he stands for, McCabe also shares this in his photographic work.

Self portrait of artist, photographer, Marine, and Vietnam veteran, Tom McCabe.
Self-portrait of Tom McCabe: photographer, Marine, Vietnam veteran

Vietnam Veteran & Creator of Photo Exhibit: ‘The Faces of Vietnam: A Veteran’s Legacy’

In this month of March, the Craven Arts Council and Gallery is hosting Vietnam Legacies, an exhibition featuring Tom McCabe’s work. This exhibition will be on display in the Director’s Gallery at the Bank of the Arts for the month of March, located at 317 Middle Street in New Bern, NC. The opening reception held on Friday, March 10th during New Bern ArtWalk was well attended. Photographer Jim Woltjen captured this image of the artist with his work.

Tom McCabe stands in front of his work at the Bank of the Arts in New Bern.
Tom McCabe stands with the images he captured & printed of Vietnam veterans. | Image: Jim Woltjen

“The Faces of Vietnam: A Veteran’s Legacy” was photographed by Tom on a 4×5 View Camera in black and white and the film was processed and printed by Tom in his darkroom. The exhibit features portraits taken by McCabe of Vietnam veterans, including himself, next to images of the same veterans from when they were in Vietnam.

Self-portrait of artist and Marine, Tom McCabe.
The artist, Tom McCabe, sits for his self-portrait. Below is a photo of himself in Vietnam.
"The Faces of Vietnam: A Veteran's Legacy" was photographed by Tom McCabe showing Vietnam veterans today.
Tom McCabe’s work as a photographer and artist captures our Vietnam Veterans today.
"The Faces of Vietnam: A Veteran's Legacy" was photographed by Tom McCabe showing Vietnam veterans today.
McCabe reminds us that the Vietnam War ended over 50 years ago. These photographs show us the soldiers, sailors, air crew, and Marines who were involved with the war.

The Artist Statement in the Artist’s Own Words

McCabe shares with us, “I am a Vietnam Veteran, and a Life Member of The Vietnam Veterans of America. It has been more than 50 years since the war in Vietnam ended. Of the 2.7 million Americans who served in Vietnam, there are a little over 31% of us left, and we’re all in our 70s and 80s now. Vietnam Veterans of America was founded in 1978 and currently has a membership of over 90,000. The VVA National Headquarters will dissolve later this decade, in 2028. This is what prompted me to take on a personal project to photograph as many Vietnam Veterans as I could get to sit for me. I ended up with 35, five of whom are women. Three were nurses, one was a TIA Flight Attendant, and one was a Red Cross Donut Dolly. I decided to do this project on 4×5 film simply because digital photography didn’t exist in the 1960s, and it was exciting to get back into the darkroom!”

Marine, Photographer, Vietnam Veteran

Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1946, McCabe is a retired US Marine who has travelled extensively. He is an award winning photographer and is currently the owner of Coastal Light Photographic Arts. He is also the former co-owner and operator of First Flight Photography of Havelock, NC. McCabe lives in New Bern, NC and has been a member of Professional Photographers of North Carolina (PPofNC) and Professional Photographers of America (PPA) since 2005. McCabe received his Certification as a professional photographer from PPA in September 2013 and his Master of Photography Degree in February 2015. In 2012 he received the Kodak Gallery Award and was awarded the 1st Place in Women’s portraiture at the 2012 PPofNC Convention in Raleigh. McCabe is the past president of the Professional Imaging Group of Eastern North Carolina and is a current member of the Coastal Photo Club in New Bern, and sits on the Board of Directors for PPofNC.

See more of Tom’s work on his website.


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