|Intrepid’s history has thousands of stories to tell. Some have yet to be told, while others have recently been discovered by our staff. This month we highlight just one of the many stories we would like to share, particularly because it emphasizes a recent donation of art and artifacts to our permanent collections.
Edward A. Ritter was a professional artist in New York who joined the Navy Air Corps to become a pilot soon after the outbreak of World War II. In August of 1944 he was assigned to Fighting Squadron 18 which was attached to Intrepid for several months. Between October and November, Ritter used his talent as an artist to boost the morale of his fellow pilots and crewmembers by creating a series of 26 humorous cartoons. These watercolor paintings depicted the shenanigans of fighter pilot, “Snipo,” a fictional character based on another member of VF-18, E. G. Blankenship, Lt (jg). Members of the squadron would eagerly wait for Ritter to finish his latest cartoon and post it on the ready room’s bulletin board. Intrepid’s photographer developed prints of the cartoons so they could be distributed amongst other crewmembers on the ship. As Ritter’s cartoons gained more recognition, a journalist visiting Intrepid from the New York Times wrote a short article featuring some of his artwork.
Unfortunately, the original watercolors no longer exist, as all were destroyed during the November 1944 kamikaze attacks that plunged through Intrepid’s flight deck and the ready room where they had been stored. However, shortly after Ritter returned to his home after the War, he received a package in the mail containing the original prints from the ship’s photographer. We are grateful that these prints were saved and that his granddaughter recently donated them along with other examples of Ritter’s work, so that future generations can enjoy the mischievous acts of “Snipo” and his comrades.
For more information on the life of Edward A. Ritter, go to: http://edritteronline.com.
Britta K. Arendt