We first posted
about this project last July, and a lot has happened since then. John
has been working tirelessly to turn this idea into a reality, and all the hard work is paying off. He reached his initial goal of photographing 50 jackets, and now has the opportunity to photograph many more. Aviation museums and historical societies all over the country and internationally are now contacting him about different forms of collaboration. The book he plans to publish, as well as all the related exhibitions, will be a wonderful tribute to the men who wore these jackets and all Americans who risked their lives during this crucial time in history. Here's John's full update:
"Now that my initial goal of photographing 50 WWII era “bomber jackets” has been reached, it seems that the project is beginning to gain a lot of followers, both in the US and internationally. In the coming week, jackets in the collection of the Kalamazoo Air Zoo and the Minnesota Historical Society will be photographed, along with a jacket from a private owner. Suddenly, they seem to be appearing magically from a wide variety of sources.
"Other museums have agreed to participate, including the Wings Over the Rockies museum in Denver, the Commemorative Air Force collections in Dallas and Mesa, Arizona, and three other museums in California. Just this week, discussions with the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum in Pooler, Georgia have begun to show promise, and they have over 80 jackets in their collection, many of which have never been on display.
"Two separate contacts have recently demonstrated just how far reaching the project has become. A small press agency in England saw a post carried on Warbird News
, an online only publication, and the owner contacted me directly. Located in East Anglia, the area where many of the airfields were located in WWII, he wants to release a story to the press in England that outlines the project. Unknown to me until I began the project, there are several mini-museums at former wartime airfields that have jackets in their collections, as well as in the collection of the Imperial War Museum. A road-trip to England to photograph jackets would be icing on the proverbial cake.
"The second surprise came in the form of an email from a researcher/historian at the German National Military Museum in Dresden. She is working on an exhibition for next year about a particular mission on 19 July, 1944, in which the 460th Bomb Group lost nine aircraft, will be examined in detail. Of special interest is how the allied airmen were treated after they bailed out over enemy territory. As you might imagine, some were treated according to the Geneva Convention, and some were not. Having photographed a jacket from that particular group, she wanted to inquire as to the possibility of including that jacket in the exhibition. I contacted the family, outlined the request, and have put each in contact with the other. We’ll see what comes to pass.
"Of all the possible self-initiated projects I could have undertaken, I’d be hard pressed to think of another that has inspired so much passion among the participants. To say that these jackets are treasured,
by the families in particular, would be putting it mildly. Equally, they are honored to participate, as many of the veterans are gone or are in failing health. Photographing these jackets keeps their stories and sacrifices alive and salutes their service to the country."