Old Photos

While we were down visiting my mom last week after my dad’s death, my wife spent some time going through some boxes of family photos and scanning them so that we’d have digital copies.   I thought I’d share some of Dad from his younger days.  Indeed, in all these pics, he’s substantially younger than I am now.

As you can readily see from the imperfections, none of these photos have been retouched, with the exception of cropping in some cases (many of the images were either Polaroid type or had insanely large white borders).

Dad in uniform with his service cap cocked rakishly. I presume from the age and lack of insignia that this is shortly after Basic Training in 1962.

Dad in uniform with his service cap cocked rakishly. I presume from the age and lack of insignia that this is shortly after Basic Training in 1962.

This is Dad in what, judging from the slant pockets, appear to be jungle fatigues.  I'd therefore say this was taken in Vietnam circa 1967 but he's not wearing the MACV patch (I don't recognize the one he's wearing) and, while his rolled sleeve is obscuring his rank insignia, he doesn't appear to have another stripe below the top one.

This is Dad in what, judging from the slant pockets, appear to be jungle fatigues. I'd therefore say this was taken in Vietnam circa 1967 but he's not wearing the USARV patch that he later wore on his right shoulder signifying former wartime service. (I don't recognize the one he's wearing, which looks similar to the US Army Pacific patch but, so far as I'm aware, his only OCONUS duty was in Germany, France, and Vietnam.) His rolled sleeve is obscuring his rank insignia, so I can't garner any clues from that.

Another rare photo in which he's smiling.  Judging from the uniform and tent, I'd guess Vietnam.

Another rare photo in which he's smiling. Judging from the uniform and tent, I'd guess Vietnam.

Dad in a high-and-tight haircut but wearing Mufti for some reason.  Again, I'd guess Vietnam from the age and surroundings.

Dad in a high-and-tight haircut but wearing Mufti for some reason. Again, I'd guess Vietnam from the age and surroundings.

Here's Dad in his Army khakis.  He's a staff sergeant here on recruiting duty in Houston, Texas.  We moved there in 1968 and I think he made SFC in 1971, so this is in between those dates.

Here's Dad in his Army khakis. He's a staff sergeant here on recruting duty in Houston, Texas. We moved there in 1968 and I think he made SFC in 1971, so this is in between those dates.

Here's dad in his Army Dress Blues, in what otherwise looks like an official promotion photo.  Adding to that impression is that he's sans moustache, which was extremely rare in those days.  Interestingly, he's wearing SFC stripes but sporting only two service stripes on his lower sleeve, meaning he had not yet reached his 9th year of service -- which he'd have done by July 1971. He must just have been promoted.

Here's Dad in his Army Dress Blues, in what otherwise looks like an official promotion photo. Adding to that impression is that he's sans mustache, which was extremely rare for him in those days. Interestingly, he's wearing SFC stripes but sporting only two service stripes on his lower sleeve, meaning he had not yet reached his 9th year of service -- which he'd have done by July 1971. He must just have been promoted.

Here's an official photo of dad circa 1977-78.  It was rare to see him in uniform, as he usually wore civvies to work as a CID special agent.  In fact, he was on narcotics duty circa 1978-79 and grew a beard and let his hair get longer.

Here's an official photo of Dad circa 1976-77. It was either taken in Fort McClellan, Alabama just after his CID training or after reporting for duty in Kaiserslautern, Germany. It was rare to see him in uniform then, as he usually wore civvies to work as a CID special agent. In fact, he was on narcotics duty circa 1978-79 and grew a beard and let his hair get longer. Also, he's wearing Sergeant First Class insignia and he was promoted in 1979.

Here's almost the exact photo taken in civvies.

Here's almost the exact photo taken in civvies. It looks familiar and may well have been the pic inside his badge portfolio.

I’ve got more recent photos, of course, going up to our last visit before he was admitted to the hospital, just before Thanksgiving. But they’re less interesting to me and, almost certainly, to you.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Some very nice photos–thanks for sharing.

    The resemblance of father and son are quite evident (although in that last one he kind of looks like John Cleese ;).

  2. tom p says:

    One of my favorite pictures of my father was from WWII. He flew on a B-29 (Toby-25 was their call sign)(I forget the name of their plane, it was a small town in MN where their pilot came from)(no cool nose art… their commander was a stick in the mud) as the radar operator, out of Saipan.

    This pic was from between bombing missions. His crew was in their hootch, bare chested and skivvied and obviously half looped. They are all laughing as my father balances 4 whiskey bottles neck to neck, base to base, in his hand. The looks on their faces is the best part: They are, each and every one of them, so happy to be alive(and so young). They all know that in a day or 2, they will once again have to face those unspeakable moments of fear, from take-off until actual landing, but for this moment… They are alive.

    Funny thing: When I was a kid, I had a buddy who’s father had been shot down over Yugoslavia (a waist gunner on a B-17), got picked up by the underground, and months later made it back to England, upon which he started flying again. A true hollywood story.

    I asked my father if he had ever been shot down… He said, “No.” The look of disappointment must have been written all over my face, because he proceeded to tell me about one time they almost got shot down over Tokyo bay: 2 engines were on fire, they were losing altitude and dumping everything that wasn’t bolted down, the pilot had been advised to dump in the bay and hope an american sub would pick them up (to which he said, and I quote: “F*CK THAT SH*T!!!!)…. they were standing at the open door, ready to jump, when they finally got the fires out. I decided that was close enuf. My father was still a hero to me.

    It was not until years later I learned of all the other times they almost got shot down (and I don’t know the half of them I am sure), Like the time they were getting ready to make their bombing run and the tail gunner was in the bomb bay arming the bombs when they got hit and they had to dump their load… NOW… afterward people started checking in to make sure all were OK and when they got to the TG… there was silence… My father went out into the stuck open bomb bay (10,000 ft) and brought him back into the plane…

    Or the time they barely limped back to Iwo Jima on 2 engines and when they got within radio range the pilot said something like, “IWO! I GOT 2 ENGINES, NO RUDDER, I CAN’T DUMP MY FUEL, AND I AM LOSING ALTITUDE! I NEED TO COME IN NOW!!!”

    To which Iwo responded, “Hang on Toby-25. I got planes in much worse shape than you are.” after which the pilot felt this small….

    The thing is, I never got the chance to tell my father that I appreciated the quiet heroism of climbing into a flying cigar tube with 20,000 lbs (?)of napalm and engines that had a habit of catching fire on take off due to over-heating…. never mind the flak, the Zeros, the Kamikazes, or just bad luck…

    Just getting off the ground was a miracle in itself. And he did it time and again, and again, and again… And then did it in Korea too.

    Only then, he had a wife and a child.

  3. tom p says:

    I should add that if he ever had bailed out in the middle of the Pacific…

    What do you think the chances are that I would be here?

    My 2 favorite stories of my fathers war time experiences had nothing to do with death defying feats (he did not talk of them much) but of the times where guys came together in a spirit of cameraderie (can I say that?)with the certain knowledge that somebody had their back…

    One was after a typhoon had decimated Saipan, but a buddy of theirs was a pilot on a C-10… he brought a case of scotch which they promptly traded to the SeaBees on the island for the materials to make the “FINEST HOOTCH ON SAIPAN”…

    Theirs was the first rebuilt.

    The other fav is during Korea… a little convoluted but it involved stealing a jeep from Gaum, smuggling it up to Okinawa in the bomb bay of a B-29, all in the hopes of getting their co-pilot laid.