Portrait Prank at the Pentagon

Walk the Prank: Secret Story of Mysterious Portrait at Pentagon
by Adam Entous
Wall Street Journal
April 17, 2012

Navy Man, Lost at Sea in 1908, Surfaces at Parties; ‘The Project’

Washington””In a Pentagon hallway hung an austere portrait of a Navy man lost at sea in 1908, with his brass buttons, blue-knit uniform and what looks like meticulously blow-dried hair.

Wait. Blow-dried hair?

The portrait of “Ensign Chuck Hord,” framed in the heavy gilt typical of government offices, may be the greatest””or perhaps only””prank in Pentagon art history. “Chuck Hord” can’t be found in Navy records of the day. It isn’t even a real painting. The textured, 30-year-old photo is actually of Capt. Eldridge Hord III, 53 years old, known to friends as “Tuck,” a military retiree with a beer belly and graying hair who lives in Burke, Va.

Most military officers who climb the ranks or command daring battles only dream of having a portrait hang in a corridor of power at the Pentagon alongside the likes of Patton, Nimitz and Eisenhower. Capt. Hord’s made its way to the Pentagon’s C-ring hallway via several parties, an alliance of British and Canadian military officers and a clandestine, predawn operation later dubbed “THE PROJECT.”

The picture came into existence after Capt. Hord graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. During a visit to then-Ensign Hord’s hometown of Kingsport, Tenn., his proud parents suggested he sit for a formal portrait. Wearing midshipman’s garb and an Annapolis class ring, he posed for the town’s best-known photographer in front of a cloth screen with his arms resting on an antique-looking chair. Continue reading “Portrait Prank at the Pentagon”