Photographer Races the Clock to Document Remaining World War I Veterans of the United States as Number Fades to Only Six
Posted on : Mon, 12 Mar 2007 20:08:59 GMT | Author : DeJonge Studio
News Category : PressRelease
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., March 12 /PRNewswire/ -- Born in 1900 World War I veteran John Babcock will be 107 in July and is the only surviving WWI veteran who saw combat. Photographer David DeJonge hopes to photograph him this Thursday.
In December DeJonge began strategizing a permanent and lasting documentary of the remaining 12 World War I veterans left in the United States of America. By the time he secured funding, four had died. As he moves to complete the project in Spokane, Washington on Thursday March 15 the nation is left with only 6.
Spread across the continent from one end to the other DeJonge has been on a quest traveling over 14,000 miles to create a exhibit that will tell the story of these last survivors who served from the United States of America.
"It is crushing to photograph a veteran from World War I only to have him pass on two weeks later," said DeJonge. Two of the veterans that DeJonge has photographed have died within days of his sessions. Antonio Pierro was photographed in Salem, Massachusetts only to pass on a week and a half later. Howard Ramsey was photographed in Portland; Oregon was photographed and died within about two weeks.
Working with the VA in Washington and NPR Correspondent Will Everett DeJonge has been helped in locating the individuals. Unfortunately, if the veterans are not receiving benefits or have not contacted the VA there likely is no record of them.
DeJonge has done the last two official portraits of Newt Gingrich who is also supporting the project Gingrich calls the project a 'pivotal piece of American history'. Gingrich went on to say: "For the first and last time America has a unique and unprecedented ability to document the last handful of a select few. Those few are all that remain from over 4.5 million Americans that helped fight a war that changed history forever."
DeJonge is asking for media's support as he seeks the whereabouts of any and all remaining World War I veterans. Again DeJonge said, "This is the last opportunity we will ever have to document their story and their image. The time is now to find them."
DeJonge hopes to have the exhibit of photographs unveiled within the next year.