A delightful—and unrecorded—pictorial map commemorating an American officer’s stint in Iceland from 1959-60.
The map adorns a large printed certificate, designed to be completed in the name of individual servicemen and presented to them upon their departure from Iceland. It depicts a cartoon-ish version of the country, featuring little but geysers, fish racks and volcanos, upon which stand three soldiers representing, from left to right, the U.S Air Force, Army and Navy; all are weeping, presumably moved by the impending departure of a much-loved comrade-in-arms. Below the title Bless Iceland, the text reads:
“Know all men by these presents: That ____, having survived from ____ to ____ “on the rock”, is hereby banished to civilization, where he may end out his days forever telling his friends, relatives, and grandchildren, about the land of ice and wind.”
This example of the certificate is addressed to one Captain Thomas B. Lynch, who served on the island from May 4, 1959 through March 3, 1960. It has been exuberantly hand colored and is signed by dozens of Lynch’s comrades and a couple of spouses. One gets the impression that Lynch was genuinely well liked.
The only clues to the map’s origins are the “BCT2” embedded in the compass at lower right and, below that, the illegible signature of the artist followed by the date “5/4/58”. Beginning in 1951 the United States had maintained an important airbase at Keflavik, reflecting Iceland’s NATO membership and strategic location. It is possible that “BCT2” is an acronym for “2nd Brigade Combat Team”, but I find no record of such a unit at the base.
Likewise the identity of Thomas B. Lynch is not known, though it could likely be ascertained via a review of contemporary service records. One of the signers of the certificate has written “The Best to you & Bev. See you in Columbus[.] Bill”, providing not one but two potentially useful clues.
In all, a good-natured, idiosyncratic and extremely rare relic of the Cold War, reflecting the efforts of servicemen to find good cheer in what must have been a harsh and isolated posting.
Not in OCLC.