While the war in the Pacific was savage with no rules, the war in Europe was fought with somewhat more honor – with the exception of the fanatical SS troops. During Hitler’s last ditch Ardennes gamble to divide the Allies in the Lowlands, SS troops committed many atrocities like the Malmedy massacre. As the photo depicts, German troops are seen stripping American dead in Honsfeld, Belgium killed by SS troops.
In January of 1945 in Holtzwihr, France, nineteen year-old Lt. Audie Murphy’s one man stand at Holtzwir earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Having been awarded every medal of valor offered by his country, Murphy became America’s most decorated soldier of World War II. The photos show Murphy at age 16, one year before joining the Army. The boy soldier then endured almost three years of combat till wars end for him in Salzburg, Austria. He tragically died in a plane crash in 1971, and his grave is the second most visited grave in Arlington National Cemetery, second only to the Kennedy gravesite.
As the single largest event of the 20th century, World War II produced a plethora of heroes, villains, and future great personalities: Roosevelt, Stalin, Zhukov, Churchill, Truman, Hitler, Montgomery, Patton, Bradley, Nimitz, MacArthur, Skorzeny, Goring, Himmler, Tojo, Hirohito, DeGaulle; And media giants such as Hemingway, Cronkite, Rooney, and Mauldin to name a few - Future presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Bush 41. After witnessing the assassination of JFK just seconds after it happened, I have always been interested in the Kennedys. The Newman’s pictured lying on the ground protecting their children, were only about eight feet from JFK when the fatal shot was fired. I located the Newmans and posed with them at the place where they were lying on the ground that fateful day in Dallas.
“IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF VALOR” represent my photographic adventures to the Pacific and European theaters of World War II. The book also introduces the reader to all the veterans I have had the pleasure of interviewing and passing their stories on to you as “the greatest generation” leaves us.