Ed Vebell earned 13th place in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics in epee, and captured the US Men’s Epee Team championship for the NYFC in 1951and 1954 . He was a bronze medalist at the 1952 US Nationals in epee and was a US National finalist 5 times. Vebell won the Metropolitan Epee title and the Connecticut Epee title many times, and had a great year in 1951 at the Pan American Games. He won the Gold Medal in Men’s Foil Team, took Silver with the US Men’s Epee team in 1951 and the Bronze Medal in Men’s Epee individual . But his most notable victory came as he became the first American in history to win a World Cup in epee in 1964. (Martini & Rossi gold medal)
Ed Vebell (right) winning the gold medal at the 1964 Martini & Rossi International Epee Tournament at the New York Athletic Club. Vebell was the first American to win this title.
There were 42 Epeeists from around the world including 4 Olympic medalists. NBC – TV had cameras filming at the NYAC’s 6th floor gymnasium. The epee event was extremely powerful with 6-time Olympian and World Champion Bill Hoskyns from Great Britain, Tamas Gabor of Hungary (Olympic Gold Medalist 1964 MET), Giovanni Breda of Italy (Olympic Silver Medalist in 1964), and Rene Queyroux, the French National Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist in the 1956 Games. Vebell was the man on the cover of the next issue of American Fencing Magazine
After attending some of the most prestigious art schools in Chicago between the ages of 15 and 18, Vebell got drafted into the Army. At the time he was making $350 a week doing catalog illustrations for
Montgomery Ward and Sears & Roebuck. It was 1942 and Vebell got sent to Casablanca in North Africa.
His artistic skills saved him from combat. Stars & Stripes had just opened its office in Algiers and needed a staff artist. The word “artist” had been stamped on Vebell’s draft papers. That and the fact that he had brought along his sketchbook loaded with incredible drawings led his commanding officer to give him the nod.
“I was offered the job that changed my life forever,” Vebell said.
He was sent to the front lines with sketch pads and pencils to capture battle scenes all over Europe. In the process, he lived with the locals, drank with the locals, and learned to speak French, Italian, Russian and Arabic. He witnessed the execution of seven young French collaborators; looked on as American GIs and German soldiers trade cigarettes for chocolates; showed up in Berlin right after it fell; and went to Hitler’s bunker, where he sketched two Russian soldiers washing their shirts in a small garden pool.
“The life I lived in Europe was so unique,” he said.
His last assignment for Stars & Stripes was covering the Nuremberg war trials. His famous sketch of Field Marshall Goering on trial is now on display at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC.
Thank you to Jeff Benedict’s “A Witness to History”
The following article and images are from Society Illustrators (www.societyillustrators.org)
Ed Vebell 1951 Pan American Games takes bronze medal in Epee
Edward Vebell 1964 Wins Martini and Rossi International Epee Competition in New York City
Ed Vebell 1965 self portrait