A painting of Ensign Chuck Hord
His portrait hung in the U.S. Pentagon along other military heroes such as Patton, Nimitz and Eisenhower.
Men of power and influence passed by his picture.
The brass plaque under the gilt frame read:
ENS CHUCK HORDYet the picture was famous even before it was hung in the Pentagon.
USNA, CIRCA 1898
LOST AT SEA 1908
History notes that the subject himself was a prankster from Tennessee.
Friends, family and colleagues played jokes on him, too.
His sister left the picture at a party at his house in Virginia, where it was smuggled away by a British captain and displayed in his office.
Amused colleagues then began to bring the picture to events attended by Captain Hord, including his retirement party.
Commodore Mike Bullock from the British Navy walked it right into the Pentagon, past unconcerned security guards.
Captain Hord did not want it, so it sat in an office until jokers decided to hang it on a wall. The brass plaque was engraved, and a wall was found where the picture could be hung.
The engraver made a typo, and engraved CHUCK instead of TUCK.
That's because the man's real name was Captain Tuck Hord.
And that's not the only thing that wasn't correct.
Capt. Hord was not born in 1898 and lost at sea in 1908.
The picture is a large photograph of him taken in the early 1980s.
(The hairstyle is the most obvious clue.)
After the Pentagon discovered the gag "painting", it was removed from the wall.
An official explained via email:
"There's an approval process for Pentagon portraits and this beautiful picture has not been approved for display :)"What did the still-living retired Capt. Hord say about this military humor?
"A little bit of alcohol and a whole big dose of irreverence plays into it... Plus you feel like you're getting one over on somebody... I started that office and this was going to put me in perpetuity in the Pentagon". He sighed.The portrait, with its frame damaged, now sits leaning against a wall in his former office.
Walk the Prank: Secret Story of Mysterious Portrait at Pentagon. Navy Man, Lost at Sea in 1908, Surfaces at Parties; 'The Project', The Wall Street Journal>>