Saturday, July 30, 2016

A flashing highlight of my military career...

Hey, a Combat Photographer in the Marines in the 1950s had to make his mark somewhere! In the "old Corps."

(Fortunately) it was a peaceful period, nobody shooting at anybody and I was assigned to the Base Photo Lab at Camp LeJeune, N.C., a member of Headquarters Batt., Support Company B, of the Second Marine Division.

Most of my work centered on parades at LeJeune, Changes of Command, official portraits and tons of "Grip & Grin" setups. 

Somewhere in my files is a shot of ME shaking hands and smiling as an officer congratulated me on - I suppose - gaining my Corporal E-4 stripes.

My favorite experience was during one of those General-shakes-hands-with-a-deserving-Marine standard photos, in the General's office. 

His aide stood to one side holding an extension flash, connected to me with a long black cord,  as I focused and snapped the shutter on my Speed Graphic 4x5 camera.

As sometimes happens with a #5 flashbulb if its protective coating has a scratch, when it flashed, it exploded with a LOUD bang! While very little glass is projected, it IS a startling sudden event.

The young man being honored flinched, as I recall, but the battle-tested Marine General had immediately dropped to his knees, defensive combat ready, and looked up at me in surprise.

His aide quickly assisted his boss back up as I shouted: "Oh shit, did I hit you General?"

​He sternly looked at me as he brushed his pants and said "No, Corporal, I am fine. Carry on." 

We reshot the photo, no bulbs exploded.

I quickly packed my gear and retreated...holding back a smile.

In combat, a photographer would seldom use a flash. 

They can be dangerous.​

Later, in the still peacful era, my duties were mainly Public Relations with the Corps. 

I got so bored, I volunteered to accompany a Tank Battalion to cover its 4-months of rugged training on a small island called Vieques, off the east coast of Puerto Rico.

The entire island was later sold by the Navy and today is a palm-shrouded, tourism mecca.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Thanks for wandering through my Marine military memories. 

Looking back, it had its moments and was a fun time.

Semper Fi.

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