I had the opportunity to do something a little different. This time, I wasn't photographing a family at Mount Vernon or Meadowlark Botanical Garden, I wasn't cuddling a brand new baby to get her to sleep and I wasn't watching a one-year-old smash a birthday cake to pieces. This was new. I had the pleasure of meeting Bob Newberry, a World War II veteran. Bob was nominated by his friend Gene for Jeremy Bloom's Wish of a Lifetime. From the JBWOL site: "At JBWOL we believe that most seniors have one thing in their life that they have always wanted to do or experience. However, and for many different reasons, often times they never get to experience these dreams. Through JBWOL and with your support, we will make those wishes come true, contributing to an American cultural change that honors and celebrates the lives of our elders." This is something I am happy to support.
Bob Newberry, 85, joined the Navy right out of high school and bravely served our country with the USS 630th Landing Craft Infantry Gun Boat during World War II. He shuttled Marines to and from the Navy ships on waterbug gunboats, providing close-in fire support with machine guns and rockets as the Marines stormed the beaches of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Bob was wounded at Iwo Jima, the longest and most intense conflict in the Pacific theater, and received the honor of the Purple Heart. He still has shrapnel in his body that was too dangerous to remove. After recovering, his unit was stationed at Pearl Harbor where he bravely jumped in the ocean, saving a fellow shipmate from drowning in a riptide. Bob could have received the Life Saver Medal for this act of heroism but was too humble to nominate himself for such recognition.
To commemorate Bob’s heroism and selfless service to our country, Jeremy Bloom’s Wish of a Lifetime is proud to fulfill Bob’s wish to visit the World War II Memorial and the United States Marines Museum in Washington D.C. For the first time ever, Bob will see the memorials and monuments built to honor him and his fellow service men and women.
It was my honor to accompany Bob and Gene and to photograph Bob's Wish of a Lifetime come true.
Bob was able to find himself in the registry. He made sure I saw what a handsome sailor he was!
It was touching to see how many people approached Bob and started a conversation with him. This woman in particular, a WWII widow, really connected with Bob.
Everybody made Bob feel like a celebrity!
The man who made it happen, Gene, is also a veteran.
Bob is a proud Texas boy, and other than his time in the Navy he has lived there his whole life.
The following day, we visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
We did not know this was part of the tour, but there is video footage from Iwo Jima in this ship mock-up. Bob actually saw his old ship on the video. He reaction was priceless.
Bob shared stories with the museum staff members. They treated him very well and he was able to get a personal tour.
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