Artwork of the Order
The Story of HCDD Jack Severn
Where do we begin?
It is no secret, and should come as no surprise, that we are an organization that is steeped in tradition and our own fanaticism. Let’s face it, we are all fanatics when it comes to being Marines! That pride, that Esprit de Corps, as it is put sometimes, is something that we have all carried forward with us, through time, generation after generation of Marines. Sometimes that pride finds a way to embellish something that turns into more than we could have thought.
The artwork of HCDD Jack Severn is one of those such things.
Jack’s artwork can be seen all over the Order. Have you read a Woof – O – Gram? Jacks artwork will be inside. Have you picked up a convention coin in a while? Many have been the work of Jack. How about a convention T-shirt? or have you seen a Chief or other member with a specific type of Devil Dog as their own personal logo?
If your here then I am sure you have, and you have definitley seen the work of Jack.
A Brief History of Jack
By Ben Kristy, Aviation Curator, NMMC
Jack Severn joined the Marine Corps on April 1, 1962, on his 22nd birthday. He went to Parris Island on August 2, 1962, and graduated October 23, 1962, during the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. After completing training as a jet engine mechanic (MOS 6312), Severn joined Marine Fighter Squadron 321 (VMF-321) known as the “Hell’s Angels”. It was a Reserve unit based at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, DC, just as the unit was receiving its first jet aircraft – the North American FJ-4B Fury (which also meant a change in unit designation from VMF to VMA). In addition to his mechanic’s duties, Severn also became a plane captain, looking after the Hell’s Angels’ Vought F-8Bs, which arrived in 1965.
Severn’s artistic talents got him noticed and he was tapped to adorn VMF-321’s flight line status board with his interpretation of the unit’s mascot – a haloed devil figure – and a bulldog complete with spiked color and hearing protection. His skills also helped him earn extra spending money. The bulldog he had painted on his heavy foul weather jacket was so popular that he was able to “pocket a little money by charging $10 to paint bulldogs on guy’s jackets and seabags”.
As a Reserve squadron, VMA-321 was not tapped for duty in Vietnam, but it did deploy in support of various exercises at Marine Corps Air Stations Beaufort, South Carolina; Yuma, Arizona; and to Puerto Rico – which were substantial adventures for a young man from Bladensburg, Maryland, who before that had rarely le the immediate area. Severn served with MVA-321 through 1968 and utilized his GI Bill benefits to attend art school. He retired from a 32-year long career with the Department of Energy as a graphics artist.
Years after Severn left VMA-321, a friend who was still with the unit tracked him down and gave him the flight line status board, which was finally being replaced after many years of faithful service. Severn carefully stored the board so as to not remove / wipe off any of the grease pencil markings for several decades. In 1993, VMFA-321 officially “rededicated” Severn’s flight line status board as part of the unit’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Severn donated the status board, along with his foul weather jacket and flight line headset to the National Museum of the Marine Corps in March 2017.
Upon joining the Marine Corps League in 1991, Jack began designing logos and artwork for the Detachments and then for the Department of Maryland. This led to becoming involved in the layout, design and artwork for the National Mid-Winter, Department of Maryland, and National Convention program books. When the “Marines Helping Marines Program” began in 2003, Jack designed the logo and artwork used on banners, coins, shirts, hats and letterhead.
Jack joined the Military Order of the Devil Dogs (MODD) in 1995 and was asked to become the Kennel Staff Artist which has been very fulfilling. In this position, Jack designs artwork to be used in coins, shirts, patches for the Pounds and Packs across the country. Jack particularly enjoys drawing cartoons for the Kennel as and Kennel Officers as is requested of him.
Jack has done so many images for the various officers in the Kennel, from Chiefs, Past Chiefs, and many others is now commonplace to see his images everywhere. So much so that it is now almost part of the tradition to have Jack do a cartoon representation of you if you become a kennel officer, that is if your bold enough to ask, and not worried about paying a fine, you never know, he may do one for you too.