Shipped out to the Pacific theater as a machine gunner, the peaceful country life of rural Arkansas gave way to the steamy jungles of the South Pacific, where the harsh reality of sniper bullets and the smell of death permeated the landscape. Birds in flight were replaced by corpses strewn on invasion beaches and floating in the water.
The mystery of life and the reality of death (Ireland live through the occupation of Japan and saw the distruction of Hiroshima) where ever present for the mature soldier who came home with only one thought in his mind: art school. With the help of the G.I. Bill, he enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, where he earned his undergraduate and Masters of Fine Arts degrees in five years. Abstract expression of natural scenes and the many facets of depth perception became recurring themes.