- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) - After years of searching, a Brainerd family has finally found an original painting of a late relative hanging in the Pentagon.

Caralee Bjerkness traveled to Washington, D.C., with her 13-year-old grandson last week to see the painting of Roy Schellin, the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/1zzJGov ) reported. The portrait was painted by artist Charles Baskerville and depicts Schellin as a young ball turret gunner in World War II.

The family had a copy of the painting, but Bjerkness had only found out about the original portrait of her father about 10 or 15 years ago.

Schellin traveled to Washington, D.C., to find the painting himself, but he was unsuccessful. He died in 2012.

After researching the artist, Bjerkness recently contacted Sen. Al Franken’s office.

“This Minnesota veteran was a war hero, and it was an honor to help ensure his family could view the portrait honoring his service,” Franken said.

The Pentagon located the painting in an area that’s usually not accessible to the public and set up a viewing with Bjerkness.

“It was just amazing to see him hanging there in that building. It definitely was a memorable experience and one I will never forget,” she said.

Although her father was proud of his country, Bjerkness said, he rarely talked about WWII.

In 1943, Schellin was shot in his left arm as he flew his bomber and still managed to shoot down two enemy fighters. He received several awards for his heroic service in WWII, including the Distinguished Service Cross and a Purple Heart.

It’s still unclear why Charles Baskerville chose Schellin as a subject. The famed portraitist and muralist, who also painted a portrait of the King of Nepal, traveled to different war theaters to create portraits of more than 60 officers and soldiers, which are on permanent display at the Pentagon.

“He appreciated it, but he never really made anybody feel like they shouldn’t have a portrait, too,” said Schellin’s widow, Lucille. “He didn’t brag about the painting. There was many people in Brainerd who didn’t know about the painting. They didn’t know about him being shot up, either.”

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Information from: Star Tribune, http://www.startribune.com