Sunday, November 28, 2004

Now I'm Just Like All the Other Suckers

I just started reading The Da Vinci Code, which everyone seems to like. I worry that it will be like Michael Crichton, where you can really see the guy really flailing away behind that curtain, but so far it's decent. A little clumsy at times. Just finished reading Combat Camera Man by Jerry Joswick and Lawrence A. Keating, a fascinating account of one of the pioneers of aerial combat photography doing a whole lot of harebrained and dangerous things in WWII. Joswick was taking baby and wedding pics in the US when he got caught up in WWII and became part of the 9th Air Force Combat Camera Unit, flying with bombers and even fighters (tucked in behind the pilot without a parachute) and capturing what was then the best aerial war footage ever.

Joswick took part in the raid on the Ploesti oil fields, the only cameraman of 16 to survive it, and ran around in the desert with British Commandos and Ghurkas, collecting Nazi ears and shooting up advance airfields among the sand dunes of Africa. Later in the war, he landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day and survived the hedgerows and later the Battle of the Bulge, where he shot pictures of the Nazi execution of American prisoners at Malmedy, and became a first-time paratrooper during a combat jump into Germany. Some interesting points in his book:

Running around with Rangers on D-Day, Joswick finds that some of the snipers giving Allied troops trouble are French, and even takes fire from a French woman. Some days later, he watches some Paratroopers knocking out bunkers from the cliffs above by attaching dynamite to ropes and swinging it into firing ports by trial and error, successfully, and with an Airborne corporal, finds a cache of French and German money, which they immediately lose to an officer walking by. Frankly I could go on forever with Joswick but will stop here, there are probably a million other fascinating WWII memoirs and I've only read about 100 of them. Will report on the next one soon . . .

After the Da Vinci Code, that is.

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