Military Portfolio   Click on image for a larger view.

                                                   Home      Personal     College

People sometimes wonder what I did in the Air Force. It was educational : passports, official promotion portraits, plane crashes,  accidents, officers club functions, film processing, printing, chemical mixing; you name it. Up in planes, down into missile silos...even inside  missiles.
What I've always considered interesting is my work in Vietnam. That was fun. Most of it was sent to the bowels of the Pentagon for filing, but I've kept some prints. I worked mainly with a 24mm and a 200mm. It's a completely different "style" from what I do now, but the usage was different too.                           
After enlisting in April 1969, I spent two years in Kansas doing general base-level photography. Kansas was not quite my cup of tea, being flat and boring. I volunteered for combat aircrew duty and wound up in Combat Documentation at the 600th Photo Squadron based out of Saigon. Our mission was to document the air war effort in its many facets. It was a great job.

What was amazing was that we had blanket tickets to anywhere in the country, and a letter telling the reader that they had to give us anything we wanted. It was quite the experience.

I spent my first three months in the Pleiku Intelligence Office (both at right) working with the forward air controllers of the 20th TASS Covey FAC doing bomb damage assessment photos of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and Cambodia.

We got shot at all the time, but it sure beat Kansas. We'd fly out in the morning, find something up that looked suspicious, and blow it up.  I photographed it before and after, later in the morning made fast prints to hang up, and the pilots would decide whether or not to go back and blow it up again in the afternoon.

That was the first three months. After that, it was six  months of travelling all over Vietnam documenting what was needed, then finally 2 months at Danang (Rocket City) , pulling alerts on base for battle damage and the like.

I finished up in 1973, at Langley AFB in Virginia, doing  general base level work again. Had one good trip to Alaska for two weeks in February on a Reforger exercise, moving the Army to Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Nome. It was -40, living in tents and a bit nippy....but a great time.

This is the first photographic evidence of NVA tanks in South Vietnam. The NVA were masters of camouflage, and we never saw any of these details until we looked at the film. There are two tanks, maybe a man squatting down, and a mystery tread shape vertical  in the ground. There is also much more, hidden in the trees. Many tracks can be seen through the tall grass These pictures were made in multiples, and fast-shipped to Saigon for 7th Air Force 
A  typical
picture of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos, which looked like a moon-scape for miles. We'd blow it up in daylight, and the NVA work crews would repair it overnight.
Danang, Vietnam, 1972: These three men were the survivors of a Spectre Gunship crash in Laos. Three others died. These guys spent the night in the jungle, surrounded by the NVA and were stunned by their survival. Colonel Rutter, the base commander, came out to greet them, and had to order them off the helicopter because they weren't moving. 
Left: Survivor of a helicopter crash into the Mekong River at Saigon tells of what went wrong.

Right: CH-47 Chinook helicopters were airlifted by Air Force C5 Galaxys for expediency. They also airlifted Abrams M-1 tanks, three at a time, but did it just once, as the treads really tore up the aircraft floor at 90 tons each.  The numbers at left were caption/tracking numbers. Fellow photographer SSgt John Opheim looks back at me.

The five still photographers in COMDOC all captioned the pictures they took, and then shipped them to the Pentagon for further use and archiving.
I was at the Bob  Hope Christmas Show, at Long Binh Army Base, Christmas 1971. It was 110 degrees, and all the troops in the amphitheater had been there for hours before we arrived. Because we were shooting for the 7th Air Force, we got great placements right next to the stage, right and center. I worked it with my 24, 50, and 200mm, and had a great time. It was one of THE highlights of my year there. Hope spent decades travelling during the holidays bringing some glamour, laughter, and a feeling of home to GIs who sorely needed it.

The crowd was enormous: about 40,000 troops, flown in from all over  the country.

The show one sees on TV is not quite the one presented to the troops. it's PG-13 here, R-rated there!
The early 70s was the era of hotpants and very short skirts, both highly appreciated by guys who hadn't seen an American woman for months.
Hope had the requisite small dance numbers  which always had a lot of leg, in between jokes with the girls. Here he dances with his troupe, The Golddiggers.

Cyb Barnstable sang "Silent Night" at the end of the show. The looks on the
faces of the GIs are something I will never forget. There was a dead silence at
the end of the song.

  Martha Raye showed up. She spent many years in the USO, performing in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, doing small shows in large or remote bases, sometimes just hanging out with the guys. She did it with no fanfare, and the Army loved her.
Upon her death in 1993 she was buried at Ft. Bragg as an honorary Lt. Col. in the Army.
For a very good description of the Bob Hope shows, go to :    
  This picture was fun: it was the entire back page of the 7th Air Force News, about 18 x 12 inches. Not my doing....I just shoot 'em.

Everywhere I went for the next few months I saw it hanging on various walls.