Saturday, December 19, 2009

Life Magazine

I’ve always liked this picture. Growing up, my parents had a coffee table book of famous photographs from Life magazine. This was one. It’s just so iconic WWII.

Without looking it up…

This dogface has been in combat a while, based on the beard. It’s an awful thin beard at that. I don’t think it’s because he’s young, though, I think in 30 years his beard would be that thin, too.

Dogface? Are you sure he’s a dogface? Dogface implies Army, to me, and that helmet looks camouflaged. The Marines in the Pacific wore camouflage while Army guys in Europe did not. I am given to understand that because the Germans wore camouflage, the Army didn’t want to adopt the same sort of mottled pattern for fear an ally might confuse soldier for wehrmacht. That wasn’t an issue in the Pacific, as the Japanese wore khaki.

That’s an M1 Carbine, from the looks of it. So this COULD be Korean war as well as WWII, but I am still thinking WWII.

Unfiltered cigarette in his mouth. I doubt it’s a Lucky Strike or Camel. Why? Luckys and Camels were the good cigarette, and guys on the front line had to settle for lesser known to us now, less-desireable brands a lot of the time. Why? The REMFs (that acronym stands for Rear Echelon Mother Hubbard, or something…) at the supply depots took the Lucky Strikes for themselves.

He sure does look determined and business-like, doesn’t he?

Now let me look it up…


The photo was taken by W. Eugene Smith. And the subject is Angelo Spiro Klonis, Greek immigrant and army solider.

So I was wrong about the Marine thing. The Marines apparently, wouldn’t take a non-citizen. The Army wasn’t as picky. But he was 20 when war broke out so his beard is like that because of his genes, not because he has the thin chin whiskers of a bald face boy.

He served in the Pacific theater, however. So my camoflauge theory might still hold up.

I should probably hunt down more Life Magazine compendiums, of WWII and others. It's a good representative of the gold age of still photography, that Life stuff.

[And... I just got back from my Dad's house and found the copy of Best of Life Magazine he had back in the early 70s that I poured over. Mr. Klonis is NOT in that. I must have hallucinated the memory and picked up the picture in my memory banks from some other source. Who knows when...]


Old NFO said...

I've seen that pic before also, didn't know the history, and I'd bet on the Pacific too!

Unknown said...

If you really want to know more about my grandpa, Angelo Spiro Klonis, just vist our family bar, Evangelos, in Santa fe, New Mexico.

Anonymous said...

weird thing is that Klonis fought was a member of the Big Red One and fought on Omaha beach a fiew days earlier........