BY DAVID ZIZZO Modified: January 19, 2010 at 4:44 am •  Published: January 19, 2010
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was an unwritten rule that no one could cut out the cartoon.

"Everybody knew that nobody touched the Bill Mauldin cartoon until everybody had a chance to read it,” Gonzales said. "There were some guys who didn’t read anything in the paper except the cartoon.

"‘Willie and Joe’ were of tremendous significance to soldiers over there.”

Stars and Stripes recognized that, and Mauldin was given great latitude in his cartoons, despite complaints from some top officers, including Patton, who called Mauldin "on the carpet” over his drawings, Gonzales said. Patton "strongly recommended he change a number of things about his work, not the least of which was his attitude toward senior officers.”

But Mauldin also had strong support from top brass, including Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. After the war, Mauldin received a Pulitzer Prize for his wartime cartoons. One of his most famous post-war cartoons, created in 1963 for the Chicago Sun-Times following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, depicted the statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, his head in his hands, crying.

Mauldin’s work, the largest collection of which is housed in the 45th Infantry Division’s museum, still connects, Gonzales said. Those who have never been in the military chuckle at the cartoons while those who have served will laugh out loud, he said. World War II vets just stand quietly and smile, he said.

"They not only recall the cartoon, but they recall the circumstances they were in when they first saw it.”