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Rare War Photos Now Available

by Richard Sisk on May 26, 2014

Apprentice BoysIn an old carrying case at the Washington Navy Yard, researchers recently found a photographic treasure from the Spanish-American War more than a century ago and the Philippine insurrection that followed.

The collection included rare photos of ships firing in Manila Bay and images of troops ashore at the onset of what would become a bloody campaign to occupy the Philippines.

“It’s timed out really well” to have the glass plate images available on line for the Memorial Day commemorations of all the nation’s wars, said Lisa Crunk, a researcher at the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Photo Archive.

USS RaleighThe Spanish-American War find was part of a push by the Navy and all the services to sort through the backlog of material in their archives to make the military heritage information available on line to the public. The Navy collection can be seen here.

In the archives of the Air Force Academy, there’s a grainy photo of a 22-year-old 2nd Lt. James H. Doolittle doing a back flip in uniform near some tents at San Antonio’s Kelly Field in 1918.

The reason for the flip is unknown, but the photo captured the maverick spirit of the pioneer aviator that he was to imbue in the “Doolittle Raiders” for their legendary 1942 mission over Tokyo in World War II.

DoolittleDoolittle donated his papers to the McDermott Library at the Air Force Academy and the images are available here.

The Library also features on line the “Genesis of Flight,” based on the Aeronautical History Collection of Col. Richard Gimbel with more than 10,000 aviation prints, engravings and other artifacts.

The material is available to the public but “our first mission really is to the cadets” of the Academy in going on line, said Dr. Mary Elizabeth Ruwell, the chief of Special Collections at the Academy.

For the 18–22 year olds, “the computer is their window on the world,” Ruwell said.

Doolittle Raiders

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex Murphy May 26, 2014 at 5:23 am

The yanks never conquered the southern Philipines though and neither did the Spanish before them.


XYZ May 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm



boyband May 26, 2014 at 4:54 pm

But the Arabs did. enjoy.


DB-1 May 26, 2014 at 5:32 pm

The Arabs didn't either it was Islam


Crazyman May 26, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Who cares……


Ziv May 27, 2014 at 7:41 am

Photos of ships in action are fairly rare for WWII. To see ones for the Spanish-American War? That is incredible. And can you imagine the life experience of those shellbacks?


Edward Cafarella May 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

I was thinking more of the cameras that were available at the time….there were no 35mm Nikons with interchangeable lenses then!


hibeam May 27, 2014 at 8:27 am

Rare War Bozos Now Available: Obama, Kerry, Hagel.


Richy May 27, 2014 at 9:23 am

Unfortunately my ignorance really hits here. But it was "REMEMBER THE MAINE" That started the Spanish American war right? I mean not the saying or rally cry but the fact that the Maine was sunk by a Spanish ship. Please let me know if I'm wrong about this. Great photos.


Tony May 27, 2014 at 10:30 am

The USS Maine blew up in Havana harbor, at the time this happened there was a native revolt taking place to expel Spanish rule. The revolt had a lot of support in the US. When the Main blew up it was blamed on Spanish Sabotage. It is now generally believed that coal dust may have caused the explosion. The American press (Horace Greely) pushed for war, many in the US wanted the colonies that Spain held around the world and during the 1800's there was a desire in the US to try to obtain Cuba and make in a state but slavery and other issues prevented any concrete plans from moving forward.


SAW Vet's relative May 27, 2014 at 6:18 pm

The USS Maine was not sunk by a Spanish ship. The USS Maine sunk as a result of damage from an explosion below her waterline. The source of the explosion (from a mine, coal dust, etc…) has been debated for almost 120 years. All investigations concluded that an explosion of the forward magazines caused the loss of the ship, but different conclusions were reached as to how the magazines could have exploded.


Doug May 27, 2014 at 9:27 am

I love seeing a comments section on any topic turn to ugly politics, regardless of how unrelated it is! That just warms my heart. –Satan


MAJ.D May 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

Glad I'm not the only one that's sick of seeing the screed everywhere. Don't worry, only two and a half years until the next election, and then we'll at least have a fresh name in the complaints…sigh.


cddawgs May 27, 2014 at 10:31 am

Wasn't sunk by a ship. She exploded at anchor in Cuba.


Bob May 27, 2014 at 11:43 am

I agree with Doug and MAJ.D… there's way too much whining and nasty comments by antisocial people who think they have all the answers to everything and that their points of view are the only valid ones! Stop turning constructive and historical discoveries like these newly found photos into political and malicious rhetoric. I'm sick of it, too! The people who do this are just revealing their real personalities to the world — social misfits! Get a life!


HeavyArrow May 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

As a History major, this makes me happy.


cueball May 27, 2014 at 12:49 pm

and thats how a real soldier jumps over barbed wire… backwards


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