The Mr. & Mrs. Robert E. McKee III Family Fred Darge Collection

Myself and Outfit (Palo Duro Canyon)

Oil on canvas, 12″ x 16″, ca. 1950

Darge entered military service in the Army on November 11, 1942, and after basic training was assigned to the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific. After two years of dedicated military service to his new country, Darge was honorably discharged from active duty on March 22, 1944. On Saturday, June 3, 1944, Friedrich Ernst Darge became a naturalized American citizen in return for his two years of service in the Army.

Judge W. H. Atwell presided over the ceremony, saying that, “We can’t view freedom as being free, but as something for which each generation must pay. The cost is sacrifice and vigilance, and each generation is the debtor of the preceding generation.” At this point, Darge was 44 years old and had seen two world wars in his lifetime.

At some point, likely within the first four months of 1946, Darge purchased a WWII surplus 1/2-ton, 4 x 4, military field ambulance, built by Dodge Brothers Corp, Division of Chrysler Corporation. Darge, being the thrifty person he was, decided this vehicle was just the ticket for traveling to the Big Bend and beyond. Here he is at Palo Duro Canyon.

Gifted by Mr. and Mrs. Robert E. McKee, III

Mankato Style Spur Strap Buckles on Custom Straps by Baru Forrel