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Shelby artist gives Army veteran a pleasant (and colorful) surprise
This portion of the mural is of a Huey gunship, similar to what Sgt. Whitaker was on as a door gunner. (photos by MEP/CF Media)

For U.S. Army veteran and Shelby native, Stanley Whitaker, the surprise his neighbor, spray paint artist Darrell Endicott had for him thoroughly caught him off guard - but in a good way!

Whitaker, 72, served in the Army from 1969-1970, was "in country" at Phu Bai, serving first with the infantry, then later as a .60-caliber door gunner on a Huey helicopter, providing protection for his fellow soldiers as they were dropped in to, or taken out of a hot spot, depending on the mission, he said.

"I also had some time on the .50 (caliber heavy machine gun)," said Mr. Whitaker, who left the Army as an E-5, or sergeant, and still proudly wears his baseball cap, telling everyone he is a Vietnam War veteran. Whitaker, a member of the Disabled American Veterans, added he was in the Army for 11 months.

By contrast, his artistic neighbor, Darrell Endicott, is a young man whose only weapon is a can of spray paint or the odd pen, pencil or paint brush he might use to draw an idea he wants to eventually paint.

Endicott said he began his art career in earnest the Summer of 1992 and has been working as steadily at it as he can since. The father of three has done mural art for a number of local clients and has plans to do many more. Additionally, Darrell has done a couple of Cleveland County schools' "Spirit Rocks".

"I've done mural art at the Elder Law offices uptown as well as for Cross Fit gym," he said. Endicott is a 2000 Cleveland Community College grad, with an associate in art. He defines his style as that of a muralist, doing spray can comic-style artwork and illustration for the past two to three years.

Endicott was inspired to do the mural on the Whitakers' shed because, "Stanley enjoys my art, and plus, he's an awesome neighbor!"

For his part, Stanley said of Darrell's work, "I think it's amazing!"

The Whitakers - Stanley and Cindy - have been married for 20 years and have three children.

Endicott said he is "non-political" with his art, adding, "It is a way to show appreciation for your fellow man; in this case, my neighbor. As for the mural, I like the way the 'chopper' blades appear to be blowing the clouds. It speaks to me."

To contact Mr. Endicott, a.k.a. "Doc Rocktopus", about possibly him doing a mural for you or your business, email him at darrell.endicott@yahoo.com, or call him at (980) 729-0242.

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