Cape veteran among those viewing exhibit of World War II photos

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

WASHINGTON -- Associated Press president and CEO Tom Curley paid tribute Monday to World War II photographers who risked their lives to provide vivid images of turmoil and triumph.

"It's extraordinary to see what photographers went through," Curley said at Washington's Union Station, where the exhibit "Memories of World War II: Photographs from the Archives of The Associated Press" opened to the public. "It's tough to imagine now, how they kept on shooting, year after year, and in combat half the time."

Also present at the exhibit were retired AP photographers and veterans who served aboard the USS Missouri, including Fletcher Chasteen of Cape Girardeau.

The exhibit features 100 photos from a book of the same name. The images are from all theaters of the war and the homefront, and will be on display at Union Station until June 1. They will return for the month of July.

Chuck Zoeller, director of the AP Photo Library and curator of the exhibit, noted the breadth of the AP's collection of wartime photographs.

"When you see pictures from Burma, Tunisia and the European theater, you really realize how global and complex the war was," he said.

The photos were culled from more than 100,000 World War II pictures in AP's archives. They include some of the iconic images of the conflict, including Joe Rosenthal's dramatic picture of the American flag being raised atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

There also are photos in the book and exhibit that have not been seen since the war, Zoeller said.

Among those sharing their wartime experiences were retired AP Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Max Desfor, retired AP photographer Marty Lederhandler, who covered the Normandy invasion, and veterans who were present at the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri.

The veterans were presented with a signed copy of Desfor's images of the Japanese surrender taken on the ship that day in 1945.

'Relieved' by surrenderChasteen, a Navy radioman on the Missouri, recalled that after the signing, "we were so relieved. Most of us thought, 'Guess we're heading home."'

"But if anything went wrong, we were ready to hit Tokyo. We would have blown the place up" said Chasteen, 80.

Desfor's photos of the destruction at Hiroshima also are shown in the book, along with photos of Adolf Hitler; American soldiers riding camels in Tunisia in 1943, waving at a B-17 flying overhead; an American soldier shot dead by a German sniper, clutching his rifle and hand grenade, and grisly scenes from concentration camps.

Former Sen. Bob Dole wrote the foreword for the book, and former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite wrote the introduction.

"They always say 'a picture is worth a thousand words,"' said Dole, national chairman of the campaign to build the National World War II Memorial that will be dedicated Saturday. He noted the pictures show the many sides of war -- high points and low.

About 200 reporters and photographers covered World War II for The AP. Five died. Seven won Pulitzer Prizes.

Many photos credit AP staff photographers by name; others came from anonymous Army or Navy photographers.

The book, published by Henry N. Abrams Inc., will be available in bookstores about June 1.

The collection tours nationally in September, with the first stop at the Dallas Historical Society.

AP is the world's oldest and largest newsgathering organization, serving some 15,000 media outlets in more than 120 countries. It was founded in 1848.

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