WWII Portraits of Honor: Blog https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog en-us Jeffrey Rease Photography [email protected] (WWII Portraits of Honor) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:37:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:37:00 GMT https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/img/s/v-12/u404410224-o923640996-50.jpg WWII Portraits of Honor: Blog https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog 97 120 "Every Man A Hero" https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog/2019/9/-every-man-a-hero I've been home over a week now and I still cannot believe I got to experience what I did on my trip to North Carolina. It was kind of a triple play event, as I met three WWII veterans each in their homes in NC and got to photograph them for my WWII veterans Portraits of Honor project. The first was maybe the most exciting, meeting 98-year-old Sgt. Ray Lambert, an Army medic who fought and served in North Africa, Sicily and at D-Day on Utah Beach in Normandy. I first discovered him as I watched on television the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C. and the actor Sam Elliott recited some of Ray's new memoir book titled "Every Man A Hero" and then walked to the front row and greeted Ray. Then about a week later, Ray was in attendance at Normandy and at President Trump's speech at the memorial ceremony taking place there. Trump talked about Ray's service in his speech and greeted him on stage. I have read Ray's book and it is an amazing account of what he and his unit went through during the war. Having him tell me those stories in person was just an awesome experience that gave me chills. What a true hero among heroes!

Army Medic Sgt. Ray Lambert - Photographed 8/20/19Army Medic Sgt. Ray Lambert - Photographed 8/20/19Jeffrey Rease 2058210770

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Ray was showing me a pipe that a German pilot gave to him as he was dying after being shot down. Ray still doesn't know why he gave it to him—perhaps in hopes he could get it to his family, or as a gesture of goodwill. IMG_5249IMG_5249

A photo of "Ray's Rock" on Utah Beach which served as a place of protection from enemy fire for soldiers ray and the other medics attended to on D-Day.


The next veteran I met was one of the youngest to ever enlist in the Army. James O. Schmidt enlisted at the age of 14, fooling the recruiters with a fib of some kind and his 6' 200 lb. frame certainly helped. He was later discharged, but not before he jumped with other paratroopers into Sicily. He was sent home and then promptly joined the Navy. He was very determined. After six months or so he was discovered again to be under age and sent home. Then after some time serving in the Merchant Marine on ammo supply ships at age 18 he rejoined the Army and served after WWII in Germany and then in Korea and Vietnam.

Army Airborne paratrooper James O. Schmidt - Photographed 8/20/19Army Airborne paratrooper James O. Schmidt - Photographed 8/20/19Jeffrey Rease 2058210770

To complete the triple-play, I met Navy veteran Thomas Shook, a Pearl Harbor survivor who served on the USS Phoenix. He was reading the paper that Sunday morning of December 7, 1941 and heard some explosions and saw smoke billowing from the battleship USS Arizona nearby. His ship's crew sprang into action to try to escape the harbor and were successful in getting out. They spent a very quiet and dark night aboard ship out in the ocean after a horrific morning.

Navy veteran Thomas F. Shook, Jr. - Photographed 8/21/19Navy veteran Thomas F. Shook, Jr. - Photographed 8/21/19Jeffrey Rease 2058210770

[email protected] (WWII Portraits of Honor) D-Day greatest generation Jeffrey Rease Photography portrait project portraits of honor Ray Lambert veterans flight WWII veterans https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog/2019/9/-every-man-a-hero Sun, 01 Sep 2019 05:05:41 GMT
Veterans Flight 2019 https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog/2019/8/veterans-flight-2019 A couple of months ago I was searching for information on one of the WWII veterans I was to photograph at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. I stumbled across a news article online about him participating in a flight given to WWII veterans in vintage PT-17 Stearman biplanes during the Pensacola Beach Airshow. As I read more about this event I realized I just had to see if I could be a part of the next event in July of this year. I located the website for it and emailed them. The founder of Veterans Flight, Roy KInsey, called me and we had a great conversation about the group and he invited me to come shoot some photos for the veterans and their families. As part of it, I could setup and shoot portraits of them, as well. They had about 32 veterans signup for it and I couldn't pass up that opportunity!

It took place over two days and Tropical Storm/Hurricane Barry had just been stirring in the Gulf Coast. Fortunately, the weather held off enough to get the Stearmans and their passengers in the air for the flights that these men will remember fondly, as many of these guys trained in the same type aircraft before and during WWII. It was an honor to be there and meet so many of our WWII veterans and see a few of the men I had photographed at the Naval Aviation Museum earlier.

850_6676850_6676Jeffrey Rease 2058210770

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[email protected] (WWII Portraits of Honor) Jeffrey Rease Photography portraits of honor veterans veterans flight ww2 WWII WWII Portraits of Honor WWII veterans https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog/2019/8/veterans-flight-2019 Sat, 03 Aug 2019 04:45:56 GMT
The Start of a New Journey https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog/2019/7/the-start-of-a-new-journey 850_4238-edit-2-sm850_4238-edit-2-smJeffrey Rease 2058210770

Why had I not thought of doing this sooner? It's such a great idea! Why did I not think of this when there were so many more WWII veterans still with us? Even though my dad was not a WWII veteran—he was a Korean War 187th Airborne paratrooper veteran and passed away in 2011—I know he would have been proud of it. I think of these things often. And then I remind myself of where I've come from, my background, family life changes, my growth and emergence as a photographer after having a career as a graphic designer and art director, and God's blessings and direction for my life. I realize that I could not have been in a position to do this project fifteen years ago, or ten years ago, or even two years ago. I could have tried, perhaps, but it would have been a poor attempt. Now is my time. I can make it look the way I envision it, and I can get it out to more people to see it. And I think people appreciate it more now, because so few of these veterans remain. I'm still learning and will improve on the portraits as I go along. But, oh the journey! And the stories! And these heroes!

The first portrait here, of 99-year-old Colonel Carl Cooper, was made at his home in a Birmingham suburb about 15 miles from me. In the uniform he retired in and looking like a proud, decorated career Marine that he is, he captured my heart by his humbleness and kindness to me. I have a new friend. And thus this journey began.

This project, my WWII Portraits of Honor project, isn't an original idea. I have discovered other photographers doing this who are much farther along than I and am glad they are doing this, too, in their own way. The number of veterans are dwindling and we need to get their stories documented. A few of us cannot reach them all. I would like to give a huge shout-out to my friend, photographer Glyn Dewis in the U.K. He is the one who inspired me through his work on his 1940s project and ultimately his beautiful portraits of British WWII veterans. He has a wonderful website called 3945 Portraits (the 3945 signify the span of years of WWII, 1939-1945). Thank you for what you do, Glyn.

So, the journey has begun! I have traveled so far to many points north and south in Alabama, and to Pensacola, Florida photographing over three dozen WWII veterans. I look forward to going to many more states with a goal of reaching at least 100 veterans within a year. I hope you'll follow me along the journey!

[email protected] (WWII Portraits of Honor) greatest generation Jeffrey Rease Photography portrait project portraits portraits of honor veterans world war II ww2 WWII Portraits of Honor WWII veterans https://www.portraitsofhonor.us/blog/2019/7/the-start-of-a-new-journey Wed, 24 Jul 2019 05:45:41 GMT