Sunday, October 31, 2010
This classic, vintage WW II photo is by Horace Bristol, titled “Blister Gunner.” The gunner had stripped off his clothes to jump into the water to rescue a downed airman in Papua New Guinea. Immediately after the rescue, the plane took off, since it was taking flak at the time. The rescuer returned to his gunner station naked, having no time to put on his uniform. This famous photo was subsequently published (2004) in “At Ease - Navy Men of World War II” by Evan Bachner. Most of the photographs are of young soldiers at the peak of their physical prime, often showing innocent physical affection for each other. Bachner quotes John D’Emilio: “Living in close quarters, not knowing whether they would make it through the war, and depending on one another for survival, men of whatever sexual persuasion formed intense emotional attachments.” These evocative images suggest that men then, as now, could let down the John Wayne guard to share a cigarette, laugh over a joke and do a little roughhousing. 150 black and white photographs – book is still in print.