Artist draws portraits of fallen heroes for ‘gold star’ families

Artist and Marine Vietnam veteran Michael Reagan creates hand-drawn portraits for the families of all service members lost in Iraq and Afghanistan — free of charge. It began with a single request in 2003, and since that time he has drawn more than 4,500 portraits.

A moment in 1968 Michael will never forget, a friend in his unit was hit by a rocket while they were under attack. As his friend laid in Michael’s arms about to die, he recalls “At the last second he looked at me and said, ‘Mike I just want to go home’ and he died. I see his face every day.”

Feeling like he had a “debt” for coming home alive, Michael later began using his talent of drawing to pay back that debt. By giving friends and family a piece of their service members back in the form of a portrait that captures a powerful essence of their personality.

Michael also raised more than ten million dollars for children and cancer research by auctioning off portraits of celebrities.