American Taliban

Behind the camera: This picture was part of a series that Special Forces troops took as souvenir pictures of them ‘posing’ with John Walker Lindh
Where: In a shipping crate at American military base, Camp Rhino (70 miles south of Kandahar)
Photo Summary: John Walker Lindh strapped to a stretcher
Picture Taken: Dec 7, 2001
This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee

John Walker Lindh or the American Taliban was made a media sensation after his discovery during the US military action in Afghanistan in response to the 911 attacks. Lindh in 2001 was serving in Afghanistan’s Taliban forces who were part of Afghan civil war against the Northern Alliance. After 911 the American government demanded the give up Osma Bin Laden when the Taliban refused US forces entered the ongoing civil war on the side of the Northern Alliance. Lindh was part of a group of Taliban soldiers in Konduz region that surrendered to Northern Alliance forces on November 25, 2001. These same soldiers staged a violent uprising in their prison near Mazar-e Sharif. Lindh, while wounded by a bullet in the thigh, was one of a few survivors of the failed prison uprising and was taken into US custody on, December 2, 2001. While in US custody American Special Forces took hundreds of souvenir pictures with Lindh strapped down to a stretcher. This was one of those pictures.

Prision Uprising at Qali-i-Jangi fortress near Mazar-e Sharif

This is against Islam. It is a major sin to break a contract
-Lindh

About 300 Taliban entered Qali-i-Jangi, a 19th-century fortress on Nov 24, 2001. Many of them where Non-Afghan fighters who felt they had been betrayed as they had been promised to be deported if they surrendered, not taken to the Qali-i-Jangi prison. An uprising was sparked on the 25th and over the course of the next 8 days, the prisoners were bombed into submission until 86 holdouts, including Lindh, agreed to surrender after Northern Alliance forces flooded the basement they were holed up. When Lindh’s Taliban Unit surrendered to Northern Alliance forces part of the agreement was that they would give up all weapons. In an interview taken shortly after being captured while he was partially drugged on morphine, Walker said that some of the Taliban had hidden grenades, “This is against what we had agreed upon [with the Northern Alliance], and this is against Islam. It is a major sin to break a contract, especially in military situations,”. It was these grenades that set the stage for the uprising that would wound Lindh and kill CIA operative, Mike Spann. Spann’s death went on to become major news as he was the first American to die in combat in Afghanistan.

Souvenir Shots

American Special forces took hundreds of souvenir pictures and home videos of Lindh while he was strapped down to a stretcher. Even though the Geneva Convention prohibits activities that might humiliate prisoners. The rest of the photos were not made public and most were destroyed when their existence was discovered by superior military personnel. While the government denies destroying evidence Lindh’s lawyers had to get a federal judge to order a “preservation order” for all evidence, including videos and photographs.

Lindh Treatment

He appeared to be suffering from hypothermia, and exposure, and acted delirious
-Special Forces Agents on Lindh’s condition

During the federal government prosecution of Lindh’s case, serious questions were raised about his treatment after his capture on Dec 1, 2001. It emerged that during the uprising which lasted from Nov 25 to Dec 1, 2001, Lindh had been wounded and had very little to eat and almost no time to sleep. From the fortress prison, he was bundled into a truck with the other prisoners and taken to the nearby town of Sheberghan where he arranged with CNN correspondent Robert Pelton to get medical care in exchange for an interview. According to Special Forces personnel who were present at the time Lindh, “was malnourished and in extremely overall poor condition … he appeared to be suffering from hypothermia, and exposure, and acted delirious”. The bullet in his thigh was not removed at this time. He spent the night in town and the next day was taken to the Turkish School House in Mazar-e Sharif where he was questioned by special forces over a week while receiving very little food or sleep. On Dec 7 he had still not received medical attention for his leg but on that day was transferred to official US military control and taken to an American military base, Camp Rhino (located 70 miles south of Kandahar). It was here while strapped to a stretcher that his clothes where cut off, placed in a metal shipping container and photographed. For two days he was held naked in the shipping crate, still without medical attention, before on Dec 9 he was handed over to the FBI for more questioning. After the questioning, he received some clothing and food but was placed back into the shipping crate. On Dec 14 he was flown to the USS PELELIU. The next day on Dec 15 almost two weeks after his capture at the prison Lindh had an operation to treat his wounds.
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Walker Growing Up

Walker was born in Washington, D.C.(born February 9, 1981), to parents Marilyn Walker and Frank Lindh. He was baptized Catholic and grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, until he was ten years old and his family moved to San Anselmo, California, in Marin County. Walker was sickly as a boy due to an intestinal disorder, after briefly attending several middle schools his family opted to home school him starting in 1993 when he was 12. He tried to go back to school but never fit in opting for self-study and earning a GED at age 16.
During this time Walker was a shut-in, rarely leaving home but increasingly participating in IRC internet chat rooms, often using fake names. He became a devoted fan of Hip-hop music, and engaged in extensive discussions on BBS groups about the music, sometimes pretending to be African American. During this time, Walker saw the Spike Lee film Malcolm X which made a deep impression on him and began his interest in Islam.
In 1997 he officially converted to Islam and began regularly attending mosques in Mill Valley and later San Francisco. In 1998, he travelled to Yemen for about ten months, to learn Arabic so that he would be able to read the Qur’an in its original language. He returned to the United States in 1999, living with his family for about eight months before returning to Yemen in February 2000, whence he left for Pakistan to study at an austere madrassa (Islamic school). It was in Pakistan that he attended a militant training camp and where he chose to go to Afghanistan in the spring of 2001. He was trained by a militant group funded by Osma Bin Laden and sent to front lines to fight the Northern Alliance just before the Sept 11 attacks.

Trial

I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban
-Lindh pleading guilty

The federal government initially charged Walker with the following charges:

  • Conspiracy to murder U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals
  • Two counts of conspiracy to provide material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations
  • Two counts of providing material support and resources to terrorist organizations
  • One count of supplying services to the Taliban.
  • Conspiracy to contribute services to Al Qaeda
  • Contributing services to Al Qaeda
  • Conspiracy to supply services to the Taliban
  • Using and carrying firearms and destructive devices during crimes of violence
  • If convicted of these charges, Walker Lindh would have received multiple life sentences, six additional 10-year sentences, plus 30 years. However, the government faced the problem that a key piece of evidence—Walker’s confession—might be excluded from evidence as having been forced under duress and torture.
    To forestall this possibility, Michael Chertoff, the head of the criminal division of the Justice Department, directed the prosecutors to offer Walker a plea bargain: He would plead guilty to two charges — serving in the Taliban army and carrying weapons. He would also have to consent to a gag order that would prevent him from making any public statements on the matter for the duration of his twenty-year sentence, and he would have to drop claims that he had been mistreated or tortured by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan and aboard two military ships during December 2001 and January 2002. Any profits Walker might make from telling his story will be taken by the government. In return, all the other charges would be dropped.
    Walker accepted this offer. On July 15, 2002, he entered his plea of guilty to the two remaining charges. The judge asked Walker to say, in his own words, what he was admitting to. “I plead guilty,” he said. “I provided my services as a soldier to the Taliban last year from about August to December. In the course of doing so, I carried a rifle and two grenades. I did so knowingly and willingly knowing that it was illegal.” On October 4, 2002, Judge T.S. Ellis, III formally imposed the sentence: 20 years without parole.:
    Walker is now imprisoned in a medium-security prison in Victorville, northeast of Los Angeles. His attorney, James Brosnahan, said Walker would be eligible for release in 17 years, with good behavior.

    Common Misconceptions About the American Taliban

    In 2001 Washington is the biggest donor of aid to the Taliban regime
    -US Gov

  • Around the time Lindh was deciding to go to Afghanistan, in early 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a grant of $43 million to the Taliban government for opium eradication
  • While he did attend an Osma Bin Laden funded camp and John actually met Osama bin Laden, he came away from those encounters very skeptical about bin Laden because John recognized instantly that bin Laden was not an authentic Islamic scholar based on what John himself knows.
  • John never fought against American troops.
  • When he was arrested by special forces after the prison uprising he was not armed but badly wounded.
  • He was tied up and could not have prevented the death of CIA agent Mike Spann.
  • In the few days he was actually sent to the front lines against the Northern Alliance he never fired his weapons.
  • Release

    On May 23, 2019, Walker Lindh was released from prison after serving 17 years of a 20-year sentence. His release stirred up controversy as the National Counterterrorism Center and the federal Bureau of Prisons published reports saying that, as of 2016, Lindh “continued to advocate for global jihad and to write and translate violent extremist texts … told a television news producer that he would continue to spread violent extremist Islam upon his release.” For the three years of his probation, he will be supervised by Judge T.S. Ellis, in Virginia. He faces a number of restrictions some of which include:

  • Not being allowed to possess any “internet capable device” and any approved device would be “monitored continuously”
  • No online communications in any language other than English
  • No communication with a known extremist
  • He cannot possess or view “material that reflects extremist or terroristic views”
  • More famous images

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    Jessica Lynch

    Behind the camera: US Military
    Where: Military Photographer
    Photo Summary: DoD portrait
    Picture Taken: Undated
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee
    Jessica Lynch became one of the main news stories of the 2003 American invasion of Iraq. Media jumped on the story of a cute little blond soldier who was plucked from behind enemy lines by US Special Forces. The American military filmed the rescue attempt and footage from the official military cut and stills from the footage became one of the most viewed pictures of the war. When talking about Jessica the media would also cut to a DoD portrait of her probably the most famous soldier of the war.

    Jessica Dawn Lynch




    Andy Stumpf a member of the team who rescused Jessica interviewed her in July 2, 2018


    Jessica Dawn Lynch was born on April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia. She joined the army hoping to see the world after being turned down for a job at Walmart. She was assigned to the 507th Maintenance Company (based in Fort Bliss, Texas) as a Quartermaster Corps Private First Class (PFC).

    Wrong Turn

    The 507th Maintenance Company is based out of Fort Bliss, Texas. Made up of cooks, clerks, mechanics and other support staff provided they keep the 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery (ADA) running.
    A trailing vehicle convoy of this unit got lost during the rapid advance towards Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 23, 2003. The 507th was last in a marching column of over 600 vehicles from the 3rd Infantry Division. This element which included the heavier, slower vehicles of the 507th, made a wrong turn into Nasiriyah, a major crossing point over the Euphrates River northwest of Basra. After the war, a U.S. Army investigation concluded that this wrong turn was the result of a navigational error compounded by a lack of rest, limited communications and human error.
    Nasiriyah was still under Iraqi control and as the 507th drove around its crowded streets desperately trying to find their way out of the city they drove into an ambush where most in the unit were gunned down. Five members were able to get away but six either too wounded to run or totally surrounded by enemy forces surrendered after their weapons jammed from the Iraqi sand. Those taken prisoners were:

  • Spc. Edgar Hernandez, 21, of Mission, Texas, was hit in the biceps of his right arm.
  • Spc. Joseph Hudson, 23, of Alamogordo, New Mexico, was shot three times, twice in the ribs and once in the upper left buttocks.
  • Spc. Shoshana Johnson, 32, a naturalized American from Panama, was shot with a single bullet that sliced through both ankles. She was the first black women ever taken prisoner in American military history.
  • Private First Class Patrick Miller, 23, of Wichita, Kansas
  • Sgt. James Riley – 31-year-old bachelor from Pennsauken, New Jersey. As the senior soldier present, it was he who ordered the surrender.
  • Jessica Lynch born April 26, 1983, in Palestine, West Virginia suffered a head laceration, an injury to her spine, and fractures to her right arm, both legs, and her right foot and ankle. She was knocked unconscious after her Humvee crashed. In the book, I Am a Soldier, Too: The Jessica Lynch Story by Rick Bragg, the author alleges that Lynch was sodomized during her captivity. This was based on the medical records and her pattern of injuries. She would become a media sensation after her April 1, 2003 rescue and one of the main events of the Iraqi invasion.
  • When they surrendered, they feared the worse. Private First Class Patrick Miller held out little hope for mercy. “I thought they were going to kill me,” he said. “That was the first thing I asked when they captured me: ‘Are you going to kill me?’ They said no. . . . I still didn’t believe them.”

    Best Friend, Lori Ann Piestewa

    Are you going to kill me?
    -Private First Class Patrick Miller

    While the other members of her unit were taken into Iraqi custody two heavily injured American POWs, Jessica Lynch and her best friend in the army, Lori Ann Piestewa was taken first to a Military Field Hospital, a few hundred meters from the ambush site at 8 am, about an hour after the attack. A few hours later, she was brought to the al-Nasiriyah general hospital. Footage later emerged of the two receiving medical aid. When the footage was shot, Lori Ann Piestewa was still alive and when the Iraqi TV adjusted her body for the camera’s she appeared to grimace in pain although the footage didn’t seem to show was aware of what was going on. The footage was never aired in Iraq and only surfaced months later when an employee of the state-run Iraqi TV handed over a copy to American forces. While doctors were able to save Jessica Lynch, Lori Ann Piestewa died from severe head injuries.

    Al-Nasiriyah General Hospital

    no bullet … no stab wound, no other thing, merely … road traffic accident
    -Jessica’s Doctor

    When the American military rescued Lynch they reported that she had received several bullets and stab wounds from “valiantly” fighting the Iraqis until she ran out of ammunition. She herself claims that she never fired a shot as her gun jammed when the first bullet was fired, “I did not shoot – not a round, nothing. I went down praying to my knees – that’s the last thing I remember.” Also, Dr Harith Al-Houssona, 24, the doctor who first treated her at the hospital remembers her injuries, “I examine her, I see she has a broken arm… and broken thigh, with a dislocated ankle. Then we do another examination. There is no shooting, no bullet inside her body… no stab wound, no other thing, merely RTA. Only road traffic accident … She was very frightened when she woke up,… She kept saying: ‘Please don’t hurt me, don’t touch me.’ I told her that she was safe, she was in a hospital and that I was a doctor, and I never hurt a patient.” After gaining her trust Jessica had a number of conversations with the doctor discussing her boyfriend back home and fighting with her family. Dr Harith even went outside the hospital to get her some orange juice as she wouldn’t eat anything, “I told her she needed to eat to recover, and I brought her crackers, but her stomach was upset. She said as a joke: ‘I want to be slim.’ ”

    In the time between her capture and being taken to the hospital, reports from American doctors who examined her after her rescue claimed that she had been raped. Mahdi Khafazji, an orthopedic surgeon at the Nasiriyah hospital disputed these claims. He was the doctor who performed surgery on Lynch to repair a fractured femur. He claims he found no sign of rape and protected Jessica when she arrived at the hospital, “She was injured at about 7 in the morning,” he said. “What kind of animal would do it to a person suffering from multiple injuries?”
    As her condition stabilized Jessica’s military captors ordered staff to transfer her to another hospital but on March 30, 2003, Dr. Harith instead told the ambulance driver to take her to the advancing American forces but when the ambulance driver approached American forces they were fired upon forcing him to return Jessica to the hospital. Dr. Harith was then able to hide her in the hospital and when retreating Iraqi forces abandoned their positions and fell back to Baghdad without taking her thinking that she wasn’t at the hospital. By this time Iraqi informants had told American forces that an American POW was being held at the hospital.
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    Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief

    The US military has claimed that several Iraqi informants were able to get in touch with American forces but the one that got the most media attention was Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief. According to Mohammed, he was visiting his wife who was a nurse in the hospital in an effort to get her to leave with him to a safer area while the fighting was going on:

    I went to see my wife [and] What caught my attention was that there were some bodyguards at a door, and there was a rumor going around Nasariya that one of the Baath party leaders was in the hospital. But when passed nearby [Lynch’s room,] I heard the door slam hard. And the guards in front of the door were talking very loudly. That is not a common thing to do when there is a big leader in the room—doors close nicely, you talk quietly. There were no flowers, no gifts, and it didn’t like anybody was paying attention to that room. When there is a VIP, lots of doctors and nurses are around. I went in, I saw Jessica and three people—one was a fedayeen
    [militia] officer, one a translator and a third one was writing. I saw the fedayeen officer slapping her face. She was answering to the translator instead of to him, that’s when he hit her … Because there was a young lady facing death. It was my duty to humanity to help her. The Americans came there to help us, and I looked at her like she was a savior for us. We were living under a very cruel dictatorship for 35 years. — Mohammed Odeh al Rehaief

    Mohammed went on to say that he returned twice to American forces to give them information on the layout of the hospital and Jessica’s location. It was during one of these crossings between fighting Iraqi and American forces that his car was hit by shrapnel and Mohammed was hit in the face losing vision in his left eye.
    After the successful rescue of Jessica on April 10 Mohammed his wife and then five-year-old daughter were taken to America from a refugee camp in Iraq. They were granted, “humanitarian parole, a status typically awarded for urgent humanitarian cases, such as foreigners needing urgent medical care.” Mohammed and his family were given this type of special treatment because the American’s could not guarantee his safety in Iraq.
    After the end of combat operations, many other accounts of what happened began to cast doubt on Mohammed’s story with even his wife describing him as overly influenced by John Wayne movies. He still lives in the Washington D.C. area of the United States and as of 2006 works for The Livingston Group, a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Livingston.




    Rescue


    Jessica Lynch Rescue

    US Special forces tasked with her rescue carrying Lynch out of the Saddam Hospital or Al-Nasiriyah general Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq on the night of April 01, 2003


    On April 1, 2003, with information from Mohammed and other informants the military made their move to rescue Jessica. Earlier in the day Marines staged a diversionary attack against Iraqi forces in an effort to draw soldiers away from the hospital. While the Marines forces attacked a joint assault unit of Navy Seal’s and Army Rangers landed with BlackHawk helicopters and secured the hospital and took Jessica out. The military created a video and the footage shows a terrified Jessica in the hospital with what appears to be patients herded into one room.

    It was the first time in decades that a military operation to rescue POWs behind enemy lines had been pulled off and Special Forces officials justified videotaping the operation for the historical value, and also for future educational purposes. When reports emerged that blanks were used during the raid Special forces personal bristled and went on to say that, “no shots — blanks or otherwise — were fired by the Navy SEAL-led team inside Saddam Hospital in Nasiriyah, south of Baghdad.” In fact, officials said there was no resistance by any of the Iraqi’s present in the hospital but that treating those present as potential threats is part of their operating procedure.
    Another part of the operation that is not often reported was that while Jessica was being brought down from hospital a team of soldiers was digging up the nine members of Jessica’s unit that had been killed, some of which had been killed with a shot to the forehead.

    Jessica Returns

    They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong
    -Jessica Lynch

    Jessica returned to America with a hero’s welcome in her hometown, Palestine, West Virginia and her family and fiancé, Sgt. Ruben Contreras, who was also in the army. By the time she came back to America, Jessica Lynch was a media star. Offers for book deals poured in and eventually she signed a one for over a million dollars which went on to become a best seller and later became a movie, Saving Jessica Lynch.

    On August 27, 2003, Lynch was given a medical honorable discharge and after months of physical therapy, Lynch began to feel confident about her ordeal and the Pentagon’s spin of the events surrounding her capture. While doing an interview with Diane Sawyer she again denied that she went down fighting and while expressing gratitude for her rescue said the way the Pentagon portrayed the rescue bothered her, “Yes, it does. They used me as a way to symbolize all this stuff. It’s wrong.”

    After returning home her relationship cooled with finance Sgt. Contreras. First, there was a postponement in 2004 and by 2006 the two were just good friends. In August 2005 Lynch started attending West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. In 2006 she announced that she and boyfriend Wes Robinson are expecting a girl which was born in January. The 7 pounds, 10 ounces was given a name inspired by her best friend in the army Lori Piestewa who died when they were attacked, Dakota Ann Robinson. Ann was Lori Piestewa’s middle name and Dakota means friendship or ally.

    In March 22, 2018, Inside Edition reported that Lynch was hired as a 5th-grade teacher in West Virginia.

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    Saddam Hussein Captured

    Behind the camera: US Military
    Where: Adwar, Iraq about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Tikrit, Saddam’s ancestral home
    Photo Summary: Saddam Hussein getting a medical checkup from an unknown US military doctor. He would later be treated by Dr. Sudip Bose
    Picture Taken: December 13, 2003

    Saddam was last seen April 9, 2003, just before American forces overran Baghdad. As the months passed American forces were under intense pressure to capture the former President of Iraq. The Iraqi uprising was escalating and the American government hoped that the capture of Saddam would take the wind out of the sails of the insurgency. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld even visited the task force charged with finding Saddam. He told the commander in charge of the operation, “I’m dumbfounded when I think about it … The chances of us using that kind of money to find somebody — to figure out how to invest some time and develop a network and produce the information that would do it — I mean, that ought to be doable.” Finally, on December 13, 2003, Paul Bremer the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq held a press conference where he formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying what would become his famous phrase, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” The footage shown at that news conference of a heavily bearded Saddam calmly getting a medical checkup from US military personnel would be shown around the world and become one of his most famous images.

    Operation Red Dawn





    Saddam had been on the run since April evading American forces by disguise and his network of loyal Iraqi civilians. Slowly though Americans were able to breakdown his security network by arresting security officials and former bodyguards. Finally, a breakthrough when on December 12 Mohamed Ibrahim Omar al-Musslit was unexpectedly captured in Baghdad. Mohamed had been a key figure in the President’s special security organization. His arrest leads to other arrests and interrogation of one of these detainees lead to information on Saddam’s whereabouts.
    The informer told American forces that Saddam was located in the village of Ad-Dawr on the outskirts of Tikrit in one of two groups of buildings on a farm codenamed Wolverine 1 and Wolverine 2.

    Within hours Colonel James Hickey (1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division) together with US Special Operations Forces launched Operation Red Dawn and under cover of darkness made for the target areas. At first, the units didn’t find anything, but under closer inspection, Special Forces found what they called a “spider hole” with Saddam inside. As soldiers removed the cover for of the spider hole they saw Saddam Hussein who seeing he had no option but surrender said, “I am the President of Iraq…” — to which an American soldier replied: “The President of The United States sends his regards.” In his almost tomb-like hole Saddam had two AK-47s, a pistol, $750,000 in $100 bills.

    Death to Saddam! Down with Saddam!
    -Iraqi journalists

    News Breaks

    On December 13, 2003, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) of Iran first reported that Saddam Hussein had been arrested, citing Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. These reports were soon confirmed by other members of the Iraq Interim Governing Council, by U.S. military sources, and by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a press conference in Baghdad, shortly afterwards, the U.S. civil administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, formally announced the capture of Saddam Hussein by saying, “Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.” Bremer reported that Saddam had been captured at approximately 8:30 p.m. Iraqi time on December 13.

    At the news conference, Bremer presented video footage of Saddam in custody. Saddam Hussein was shown with a full beard and hair longer and curlier than his familiar appearance, which a barber later restored. His identity was later reportedly confirmed by DNA testing. He was described as being in good health and as “talkative and co-operative”. At the news conference Iraqi journalists rose to their feet and started shouting, “Death to Saddam!” and “Down with Saddam!”

    More Famous Pictures

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    We Can Do It!

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    Rosie The Riveter poster
    Behind the camera: J. Howard Miller
    Where: Miller’s Studio
    Photo Summary: A poster put out by the US government to encourage women to head out into the workforce
    Picture Taken: 1943
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a federal employee, J. Howard Miller

    While other girls attend their fav’rite cocktail bar
    Sippin’ dry martinis, munchin’ caviar
    There’s a girl who’s really puttin’ them to shame
    Rosie – is her name
    All the day long, whether rain or shine
    She’s a part of the Assembly Line
    She’s makin’ history, workin’ for Victory
    Rosie! The Riveter

    -Rosie The Riveter was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb

    After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, America entered the war. Companies who had been already producing some war material for the Allies switched to full wartime mobilization. As factories stepped up production, they faced an immediate problem, manpower shortages. Men working in the American labor force left by the millions to serve their country in the military. Companies who had just signed lucrative contracts with the government desperately needed workers and they turned to as yet untapped resource, American Women.

    Women in the Workforce

    Women in the workforce were not a new thing, especially for minorities and the poor. These working women though were mostly restricted to the traditional female professions. The attitudes of the time placed the ideal role of a woman as a homemaker raising the kids. Compounding this way of thinking was the high unemployment during the Depression. Most saw women in the workforce as taking jobs from unemployed men. The American government seeing that it would have to smash these mind-sets launched a media campaign to get women into the labor force.

    [bigquote quote=”Do the job he left behind” author=” American government slogan”]
    With slogans like, “Do the job he left behind” or “The more women at work, the sooner we will win”, the government launched a media blitz intended to get more ladies into the factories. The “US Office of War information” even put out a “Magazine war guide” for publishers. It had ideas, slogans, and information on how to recruit women workers. Publishers were told to write articles depicting work as glamorous, with high pay but most of all emphasizing patriotism, doing all you can do. Articles soon appeared talking about how because of the war it would not reflect poorly on the man that he was not the sole moneymaker, that a family with a working wife was a patriotic family. Posters and ads of the time also stressed that the female in the factories scenario was temporary, to allay the fear that women were taking Men’s jobs. While making more money was also pressed as a plus, the government warned that the more money coming in shouldn’t be overemphasized or else women might go crazy with spending and cause inflation.

    The Empowerment Posters

    Part of the campaign was a series of propaganda posters encouraging all Americans to buckle down and do their part. An example of this was a poster created by Westinghouse War Production Co-Ordinating Committee artist J. Howard Miller. It was simply entitled “We Can Do it”. He based the poster on a United Press International (UPI) picture taken of Geraldine Doyle working at a factory. At the time of the poster’s release, the woman pictured wasn’t named Rosie. The Rosie name came later when a popular patriotic song called “Rosie the Riveter” was released. The song was written by Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb and recorded by big band leader Kay Kyser. The name Rosie still wasn’t cemented as a household name until the Norman Rockwell Cover on the Saturday Evening Post came out.

    Feminist Icon?

    Recent research has been done on the purpose behind the “We Can Do it” poster. While modern culture has assigned the poster a symbol of women’s rights the original purpose may have been much different. Analysis by Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade have put forward the theory that the poster wasn’t created to be a feminist symbol rather it was a short run poster hoping to promote management and prevent strike action. They note that the poster has instructions in the bottom left corner telling to hang the poster from Feb 15 to Feb 28 [1943]. Also, a small company badge on her shirt collar is noticeable, so rather than being a poster for the general public Sharp and Wade claim that it was an internal poster for employees that already worked for the company not a call-up for more women from the general public.

    the message wasn’t designed to empower workers, female or otherwise; it was meant, as were the other posters in the series, to control Westinghouse’s workforce … Images of happy workers expressing support for the war effort and praising workers’ abilities served as propaganda meant to persuade workers to identify themselves, management, and Westinghouse itself as a unified team with similar interests and goals … Kimble and Olson write: “…by addressing workers as ‘we,’ the pronoun obfuscated sharp controversies within labor over communism, red-baiting, discrimination, and other heartfelt sources of divisiveness.” Indeed, the authors note that such measures were effective, since “patriotism could be invoked to circumvent strikes and characterize workers’ unrest as unAmerican.” Today, we see the poster through a lens shaped by what came later, particularly Second Wave feminism.
    –Gwen Sharp and Lisa Wade

    Rockwell’s Rossie





    The May 29, 1943, edition featured Rockwell’s take on women doing their part for the war effort. Rockwell painted a statuesque factory worker named Rosie who contemplating the greater things in life while eating lunch is crushing a copy of Mein Kempf under her feet. Rockwell based the image on Michelangelo’s depiction of the prophet Isaiah in the Sistine Chapel. Like many of his painting, he used a model from Arlington, Vermont the small town where he spent most of his time. The 19-year-old telephone operator, Mary Doyle (later Married as Mary Keefe) posed for the picture and was quite surprised when Rockwell turned her small frame into the muscled Rosie seen on the cover.

    Real life Rosies

    The popular Rockwell cover and hit song prompted the government to launch a campaign promoting the fictional character of “Rosie the Riveter”. Rosie was seen as the ideal woman worker: loyal, efficient, patriotic, and pretty. Media were encouraged to go along and soon they started to find their own real-life Roses. One such Rosie was Rose Hicker, who with her rivet partner was reported to have broken a record for driving rivets into a Grumman “Avenger” Bomber at the Eastern Aircraft Company in Tarrytown, New York. Hollywood star Walter Pidgeon discovered his own Rosie when touring the FORD Willow Run Aircraft Factory in Michigan. He found a Rose Monroe riveting plane parts together, he quickly had her moved from the factory floor to the film stage, playing herself riveting in war bond films.

    The similarities between the “We can do it!” poster and the Rockwell cover ensured that both women were labelled as Rosie. Soon every woman in the workforce was referred to as Rosie. Women who worked in the factories during World War II are still called Rosies. The Miller poster and Rockwell’s cover were seen as the ideal Rosie and each had a huge demand. Yet, Rockwell’s cover was copyrighted which slowed reproduction. Miller’s poster had no restrictions and it was soon on everything, as everybody wanted to show their support for Rosie. The Rockwell cover, while it had helped create the Rosie legend, slowly faded from view and Miller’s “We can do it” poster, rechristened Rosie the Riveter became the image everyone remembers.

    Millions of women took up the call to fill the factory the floor’s vacated by the men during World War II. It became so hard to find women to do traditional jobs that many companies had to shut down, for example, some 600 hundred laundries were forced to close due to lack of workers. While women enjoyed the independence and money their jobs brought, after the war as the men started to return home most left or were forced from their jobs. They went either back into the home or into traditional female employment roles but not all left, as after World War II women in the workforce would never dip below pre-war levels.

    Geraldine Doyle

    For decades Geraldine Doyle, born July 31, 1924, was thought of a woman who inspired Miller’s poster. She has toured the country signing Rosie the Riveter posters. She didn’t make the claim she was Rosie until the 1980s when she found the picture in a 1942 Modern Maturity Magazine. Only 17 when she took the job at a metal pressing plant near Ann Arbor, Michigan she quit after only two weeks upon finding out that another woman had badly injured her hand doing the same job. Doyle loved to play the cello and was worried that the job might cripple her. In 1992 the U.S. Postal service created a stamp with Rosie’s Image. Geraldine Doyle died on December 26, 2010, from complications of her arthritis. Her daughter Stephanie Gregg said that Doyle was quick to correct people who thought she was the original women worker. “She would say that she was the ‘We Can Do It!” girl,” Gregg said. “She never wanted to take anything away from all the Rosie the Riveters who were doing the riveting.”

    Naomi Parker Fraley, the real Rosie the Riveter


    Naomi Parker Fraley

    The image that started it all

    When Doyle died in 2010 associate professor of communication at Seton Hall University in New Jersey James Kimble began to see holes in her claim to be the woman who inspired the poster. Central to the identity of Rossie is an uncaptioned photo that is claimed to have inspired J. Howard Miller. After years of research, in 2015, he made a breakthrough when he found a series of photos with the caption that listed the woman in the photo as Naomi Parker Fraley.

    Pretty Naomi Parker looks like she might catch her nose in the turret lathe she is operating, [The women wore] safety clothes instead of feminine frills … And the girls don’t mind – they’re doing their part. Glamour is secondary these days.

    Naomi Parker Fraley was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in August 1921 to mining engineer Joseph Parker and his wife Esther. Eventually, they had eight children and moved throughout the country following mine work. After America joined WWII 20-year-old Naomi got a job at the Naval Air Station in Alameda with her sister Ada. It was there that a photographer took her picture. She didn’t make the connection until 2011 when she saw learned that the picture was the inspiration of the poster. No one would listen to her claims until Professor Kimble tracked her down to her home in California. When they went public the Omaha World-Herald asked how it felt to finally be known as the real Rosie she shouted through the phone “Victory! Victory! Victory!”

    Mrs. Fraley’s first marriage, to Joseph Blankenship, resulted in a son Joseph Blankenship but the marriage ended in divorce. She got married again but her second husband, John Muhlig, died in 1971. Her third husband, Charles Fraley, died in 1998 after 19 years of marriage. On January 20, 2018, Naomi Parker Fraley herself died while living with her sister.

    In 2016 in an interview with People Magazine she said: “The women of this country these days need some icons, If they think I’m one, I’m happy.”

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    Fat Man explodes

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    Nagasaki bomb 1945
    Behind the camera: A crew member of one of the two B-29 Superfortresses used in the attack.
    National Archives image (208-N-43888)
    Where: Nagasaki, Japan
    Photo Summary: Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945
    Picture Taken: August 9, 1945
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a military photographer

    In an effort to end the war, and three days after the Hiroshima atomic bombing, the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb (Equal to the force of 21 kilotons of TNT) on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. The United States Army Air Forces B-29 bomber that dropped the bomb was called the Bockscar (sometimes called Bock’s Car or Bocks Car). The plane was piloted by Maj Charles W. Sweeney and co-pilot Capt Charles Donald Albury. Fat Man Detonated at about 1,800 feet (550 m) the explosion flattened the city and killed outright around 39,000 people, with a further 25,000 injured. Thousands more would soon die from their wounds.

    Bombing mission


    Enlisted flight crew of the Bock's Car.

    Crew C-15. front row: Dehart, Kuharek, Buckley, Gallagher, Spitzer; back row: Olivi, Beahan, Sweeney, Van Pelt, Albury

    The mission procedure for August 9, 1945, nuclear bombing run involved 5 B-29s bombers. Two were equipped as weather reconnaissance planes and would fly an hour ahead of the one designated bomber and two support bombers who would be providing instrumentation and photographic support for the mission. The primary target for the second nuclear attack (The first was the Hiroshima bombing on August 6, 1945) was the city of Kokura. The port city of Nagasaki was the secondary target. At the designated time the two weather bombers flew over the cities and determined that both targets were clear.

    After getting the all-clear by the weather planes the designated bomber, Bockscar, and its support plane The Great Artiste met at the designated rally point. However the third support plane Big Stink failed to show. After waiting 40 min the two bombers continued to the primary target, Kokura. The drop on Kokura was cancelled as the city was covered by cloud and smoke from an earlier firebombing attack. The planes moved onto the secondary target, Nagasaki only to find that it too had been covered in clouds. While circling the city the crew determined that fuel levels would force them to ditch the mission. Sweeney decided that against orders he would do a radar run, a system that in 1945 was notoriously inaccurate. As the plane prepared to drop the bomb, twenty seconds before release, Beahan spotted a cloud break and shouted over the intercom, “I can see [Nagasaki], I can see it, I’ve got it!” Sweeney halted the radar drop and answered, “You own it.” Co-pilot Fred Olivi would recall that Beahan “took over, set up the bombsight and dropped the bomb.”
    Both planes quickly turned to flee the explosion but even as they speed away all aboard the planes were aware of an intense flash that could even be seen through their arc-welder glasses. William Laurence a reporter flying on The Great Artiste would later write:

    Observers in the tail of our ship saw a giant ball of fire rise as though from the bowels of the earth, belching forth enormous white smoke rings. Next, they saw a giant pillar of purple fire, 10,000 feet high, shooting skyward with enormous speed … [As the radioactive cloud reached the plane’s altitude] it was no longer smoke, or dust, or even a cloud of fire. It was a living thing, a new species of being, right before our incredulous eyes.

    The cloud rising to almost 60,000 feet seemed to chase the planes and the crew of the Bockscar had to take evasive manoeuvres to escape the cloud. Co-pilot Fred Olivi reported that Sweeney “dove the aircraft down and to the right with full throttles, to pull away from the oncoming mushroom cloud. For a while, I couldn’t tell whether we were gaining on it, or it was gaining on us … But then we began to see that we were pulling away and we escaped the radiation.”
    As they put distance between the cloud and the planes someone on either the Bockscar or The Great Artiste took the famous Fat Man photo.
    [midgoogle]

    Mission crew


    Nagasaki, Japan, before and after the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945.

    Nagasaki, Japan, before and after the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945.


    Nagasaki, Japan, before and after the atomic bombing of August 9, 1945
    The Bockscar crew was made up of:
    Maj Charles W. Sweeney, Flight Commander
    Capt Charles Donald Albury, Pilot
    2nd Lt Fred Olivi, regular co-pilot
    Capt James van Pelt, navigator
    Capt Kermit Beahan, bombardier
    Master Sergeant John D. Kuharek, flight engineer
    SSgt Ray Gallagher, gunner, assistant flight engineer
    SSgt Edward Buckley, radar operator
    Sgt Abe Spitzer, radio operator
    Sgt Albert Dehart, tail gunner
    CDR Frederick L. Ashworth USN, weaponeer
    LT Philip Barnes (USN), assistant weaponeer
    2nd Lt Jacob Beser, radar countermeasures

    Accompanying the Bockscar was another B-29 bomber The Great Artiste

    Capt. Frederick C. Bock, aircraft commander
    Lt. Hugh C. Ferguson, co-pilot
    Lt. Leonard A. Godfrey, navigator
    Lt. Charles Levy, bombardier
    Master Sgt. Roderick F. Arnold, flight engineer
    Sgt. Ralph D. Belanger, assistant flight engineer
    Sgt. Ralph D. Curry, radio operator
    Sgt. William C. Barney, radar operator
    Sgt. Robert J. Stock, tail gunner
    S/Sgt. Walter Goodman
    Reporter William Lawrence

    Final landing

    Once the bomb was dropped and the planes headed home. Commander Sweeney couldn’t get any response on the radio from Navy rescue squad that was supposed to accompany the Bockscar back to base. Since they were hours behind schedule the crew determined that the Navy had given up and returned home. Due to fuel constraints, they headed to Okinawa but couldn’t raise anyone at Okinawa’s Yontan airfield. To get the attention of the ground crews Sweeny ordered the firing of all flares on board and then brought the plane in for a landing. They landed halfway down the runway narrowly missing a B-24 taking off and a line of parked B-24s. Only the skill of the pilots prevented the plane from crashing. After they grounded the plane they discovered that there was only seven gallons of fuel left, about one minute of flight time for a B-29. When emergency crews reached the plane a paramedic popped the hatch and asked where the wounded and dead were? Commander Sweeney pointed north towards Nagasaki and said, “back there.”

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    USS Arizona Struck

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    The USS Arizona (BB-39) burning after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/07/1941
    Behind the camera: From the Naval archives, Photo #: NH 97379. Unknown Photographer
    Where: Battleship row, Pearl Harbor
    Photo Summary: USS Arizona (BB-39) a flame. The picture is taken looking from the side of the USS Arizona. To the left you can Number Two 14inch/45 triple gun turret pointing forward. The supporting structure for the gun director tripod has collapsed and the tripod is tilting forward towards the front of the ship giving the wreck its distinctive appearance.
    Picture Taken:
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a military photographer

    United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt and many Americans saw the war in Europe as a threat that would eventually pull Isolationist America into the war. While Roosevelt had developed a contingency plan to get troops in Continental Europe by 1943 called Rainbow Five, he faced heavy opposition from people against entering the war. This all changed on Dec 7 as after the attack the nation united against a common threat. This picture of the USS Arizona burning, sunken, broken is probably the most famous picture from the Japanese strike. It has come to represent the attack and since it’s a federal photograph with no copyrights, it is often used when talking about the attack.

    Tora Tora Tora

    As the Japanese strike force flew over Pearl Harbor most American service members thought it was nothing more than a drill. It wasn’t until the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:53 a.m and the bombs started dropping that people knew it was for real.
    Japanese aircraft from six fleet carriers struck the Pacific Fleet as it lay in port at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese pilots had been trained to strike the battleships that were lined up in Harbor. Onboard Arizona, the ship’s air raid alarm went off about 07:55, and the ship went to general quarters soon thereafter. Shortly after 08:00 a bomb dropped by a high-altitude Kate bomber (aka Kate) from the Japanese carrier Kaga hit the side of the #4 turret and glanced off into the deck below and started a small fire but detonated near the officers’ mess incinerating most Arizona’s ranking officers.
    A number of bombs and torpedoes hit Arizona. The repair ship USS Vestal was tied up to Arizona so that Arizona itself was between Ford Island to the west and the Vestal and open harbor water to the east. The torpedoes that hit Arizona actually went under the smaller Vestal and exploded under the waterline of the Battleship. Private First Class James Cory who was on Arizona remembered the torpedoes hitting, “you could feel the decks-the compartments-being penetrated just like you could hold a taut piece of cloth or two … separated by you fingers and feel a needle go through them … I don’t know about other people but I thought, ‘Gee, I might get killed!'”

    The Arizona magazine explosion


    At 08:06 a Kate, from the carrier Hiryū, dropped a bomb, a converted 16.1″ naval shell, that hit between the starboard Turrets #1 & 2. The explosion which destroyed the forward part of Arizona was due to the detonation of the ammunition magazine, located in an armored section under the deck. Most experts seem to agree that the bomb could hardly have pierced the armor. Instead, it seems widely accepted that the black powder magazine (used for aircraft catapults) detonated first, igniting the smokeless powder magazine (used for the ship’s main armament). A 1944 BUSHIP report suggests that a hatch leading to the black powder magazine was left open, with perhaps inflammable materials stocked nearby. A US Navy historical site history.navy.mil goes as far as to suggest that black powder might have been stockpiled outside of the armored magazine. Due to the total destruction of Arizona, it seems unlikely that a definitive answer will ever be found. Credit for the hit was officially given to Japanese pilot Tadashi Kusumi. The cataclysmic explosion ripped through the forward part of the ship, touching off fierce fires that burned for two days.
    The blast that destroyed Arizona and sank her at her berth alongside Ford Island consumed the lives of 1,177 of the 1,400 on board at the time—over half of the casualties suffered by the entire fleet on the “Date which will live in infamy.”

    Once the fires were finally extinguished and the surviving crew were able to board to check the ship’s status they found a burnt-out hull. The senior officer in charge submitted a status report to Admiral Kimmel saying,”The USS ARIZONA is a total loss except the following is believed salvageable: fifty-calibre machine guns in maintop, searchlights on after searchlight platform, the low catapult on the quarterdeck and the guns of numbers 3 and 4 turrets” (Memorandum, Commanding Officer, USS ARIZONA to CINCPAC, Pearl Harbor, T.H., December 13, 1941.
    It is commonly yet incorrectly believed that Arizona remains perpetually in commission but she was placed “in ordinary” at Pearl Harbor on December 29, 1941, and Arizona was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on December 1, 1942. After her main battery turrets and guns were salvaged to be used as coast defence guns the wreck was cut down so that very little of the superstructure lay above water.

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    Greatest Generation D-day Landing

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    WWII: Europe: France; “Into the Jaws of Death — U.S. Troops wading through water and Nazi gunfire”, circa 1944-06-06.
    Behind the camera: Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent of the United States Coast Guard (USCG)NAIL Control Number: NLR-PHOCO-A-7298
    Where: Omaha Beach which was the military name for the a stretch of beach approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 km) long, from Sainte-Honorine-des-Pertes to Vierville-sur-Mer.
    Photo Summary: Assault landing. One of the first waves at Omaha Beach. The U.S. Coast Guard caption identifies the unit as Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. The ship is a LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase.
    Picture Taken: Early morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day)
    This image is in the public domain because it was taken by a naval photographer

    You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade. … The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and progress of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

    –Eisenhower’s message on the eve of D-day

    D-day

    Uncropped version click for full size

    On June 6, 1944, the largest amphibious invasion in history occurred when the Allies stormed ashore the beaches of Normandy. Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM), Robert F. Sargent, on one of the LCVPs snapped this photo while the American soldiers of Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division (The Big Red One) waded onto the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach. Also known as “Into the jaws of death ” the picture is one of the most famous images of D-day, although it is often confused as one of the 11 famous Capa D-day pictures.

    D-day

    D-day or the Normandy Landings were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of occupied France. The operation started on June 6, 1944, and was the biggest amphibious invasion of all time, with over 175,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944. Time Cover Dday 1984The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The Americans were responsible for two of the landing beaches, Utah and Omaha.
    The LCVP in the image was part of the landing group that was supported by the attack transport, USS Samuel Chase (APA-26). The Chase launched 15 waves of troops of the American 1st Division (The Big Red One) from its supported landing crafts. By 11 a.m. it unloaded the entire Division’s troops that it had aboard onto what was supposed to be the Fox Green section of Omaha Beach. While the landing craft brought troops to the beach it also returned the wounded who were cared for on the Chase by its U.S. Navy and Public Health Service doctors and corpsmen. Chase returned to Weymouth, England, on 7 June.
    The American’s of 1st Division were faced off against the newly formed German 352nd division. Nothing went to plan as the landing crafts were swept off course by the rough seas. A high causality rate of officers left a lot of low ranked soldiers leaderless on the beaches. Eventually, small penetrations were achieved by groups of survivors making improvised assaults, scaling the bluffs between the most heavily defended points.
    The men photographed by Robert F. Sargent were from Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. During the initial landing two-thirds of the Company were immediate casualties. Yet the survivors were instrumental through their, skill and sheer luck, in finding and exploiting the weaknesses of Omaha Beach. These breaches were expanded until a number footholds were secured that allowed easier access to German positions. Over the next few days, their D-day objectives would be taken.
    Time Cover DDay 2004

    Usage

    The photo is actually a cropped version of a larger photo that has been cut for artistic reasons. Probably because as a product of the US government and as such is in the public domain this image gets a lot of use. TIME magazine has used it for their D-day anniversary issues. In the USCG and American archive it is titled, The Jaws of Death or Taxi to Hell – and Back with the caption, “Landing on the coast of France under heavy Nazi machine gun fire are these American soldiers, shown just as they left the ramp of a Coast Guard landing boat.” Many posters have been made including a popular one sold by Amazon that is entitled, “The Greatest Generation”.

    Coast Guard Records

    The photographer, Coast Guard Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent, was a veteran of the Allied invasions of Sicily and Salerno. The Coast Guard records department were able to track down a copy of the press release issued with the publication of Sargent’s photograph. The decades-old mimeograph paper was brittle but still readable. In addition to the original caption (below), there is a write up by Coast Guard Combat Correspondent Thomas Winship who quotes Sargent extensively.

    Original caption: Into the Jaws of Death: Down the ramp of a Coast Guard landing barge Yankee soldiers storm toward the beach-sweeping fire of Nazi defenders in the D-Day invasion of the French coast. Troops ahead may be seen lying flat under the deadly machinegun resistance of the Germans. Soon the Nazis were driven back under the overwhelming invasion forces thrown in from Coast Guard and Navy amphibious craft.

    The Coast Guard records also list the crew of the landing craft.

    The coxswain of the boat was William E. Harville of Petersburg, Va. — it was his landing craft and he was at the helm. The boat engineer, the crewman who kept the boat’s engine running smoothly, was Seaman 1st Class Anthony J. Helwich of Pittsburgh, Pa. Seaman 1st Class Patsy J. Papandrea was the bowman — the crewman who operated the front bow ramp and is visible as the helmeted head in the right foreground of the photo. Sargent also mentions among their passengers was the “First Wave Commander Lieut. (j.g.) James V. Forrestal, USCGR,” of Beacon, N.Y.

    Sargent mentions that the first waves got underway at 5:36 AM. and that the picture was taken around 7:40 AM.

    Colorization by Brazilian digital artist Marina Amaral

    Colorization by Brazilian digital artist Marina Amaral

    Possible identification

    Men running towards the beach

    William H. Caruthers Jr. claims that this is him in the photo

    Each LCVP that landed that day carried around 30 men. Five LCVPs landed 183 men of E Company at 6:30 AM, of those that landed 100 were killed. In this picture, the men are all facing forward toward the beaches so we can’t identify them or their unit, except for one man with his face turned so that the camera captured his left profile. Major William H. Caruthers Jr. claims to be that man.

    Major William H. Caruthers Jr. was in the 56th Signal Battalion and records show that elements of the 56th Signal Battalion were sent in with the first wave to hit the beaches so that they could report back what was going on at the front line. Caruthers didn’t actually land with the Company E, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division but waded ashore from another ship. Volume 23 the 1968 issue of Signal Magazine does show that two DUKW’s with 15 members of the 56th Signal Battalion were on the beach around that time and that their vehicles became stuck on a sandbar causing them to wade ashore. Major William H. Caruthers Jr. himself recounts that:

    Our job was to get ashore and see what was going on, particularly to report back whether we could get a foothold there. Things were very touch and go for a while and it was far from certain we could get onto the beach. [when he saw a wounded man floating in the water] The sergeant had some highly classified papers on him and some of them were spilling into the water. I got hold of him and pulled him behind me, hoping to get him to shore.

    The picture does to appear to show another landing craft to the right of this one and it is conceivable that the two units mixed while wading ashore and Caruthers does appear to be dragging a man through the water. All evidence points to the man in the picture being Major William H. Caruthers Jr. except for the time difference. As told in the gripping accounts of E company storming the beaches and clearing Exit 1 out of Omaha beach, they came ashore at 6:30. By Caruthers’ own statement he claims to have come ashore at “around 8:30.” So maybe Caruthers is confused about the time or the Coast Guard photographer was confused about what unit he dropped off but it is possible that the man with his face captured in one of the most famous pictures of World War II is Major William H. Caruthers Jr.

    Not Easy Company

    Although coast guard records say that Chief Photographer’s Mate (CPHOM) Robert F. Sargent of the United States Coast Guard dropped off Easy Company in this photo records also show that Sargent’s boat was unloading men from USS Samuel Chase. This information seemingly rules out Easy Company as they unloaded from the USS Henrico. As such based on the time and the visual clues from the picture the men who are in the photo are probably from Company A.

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