The Image Maker

val c pope one of first combat cameramen to land at Normandy seen in france june 44651 8x10Val C. Pope served with a U.S. Army Signal Corps company during World War II. He was one of the first combat cameramen to make it ashore on D-Day. He landed on Omaha Beach with still photographer Walter Rosenblum sometime during the morning of June 6th. Armed only with a movie camera, Val and Walter set about capturing the chaos on Omaha as it unfolded around them. One of the most gripping movie clips Val shot that survived the landing was the rescue of several drowning GI’s. Their landing craft was hit and sinking, and as they ended up in the water floundering, a young lieutenant saw their plight from shore. He grabbed a cast away life raft, jumped into the surf and swam out to them. Val’s footage shows the men being helped ashore.omaha beach 1157

For the next several days, Val remained right in the thick of the fighting, filming some of the iconic scenes of the early days of the invasion. While walking past a couple of buildings in search of a Red Cross aid station, he was ambushed by a German machine gun team. Hit in the head, he fell back unconscious as a fellow combat camerman dove for cover. A few minutes later, a group of GI’s rushed out and pulled Val out of the line of fire. He died as medics worked furiously to save his life.

Today, as we remember the June 6th landings, let us not forget those who carried cameras instead of guns, whose images have become a timeless–and priceless–part of our national heritage. Without them and their selfless spirit to capture history as it unfolded, future generations would have had no window into those momentous events in 1944.omaha beach dday first wave going ashore iii212




Categories: ETO, European Theater of Operations, War in Europe, World War II, World War II Europe, World War II in Europe | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sky Above Southern California


The Planes of Fame Republic P-47D Thunderbolt with a replica Fw-190 on its wing. Chino Air Show, 2016. If you are a lover of warbirds and have not made the trip to Chino, do so. The museum’s collection is simply incredible.

Categories: Uncategorized, World War II Europe, World War II in Europe | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mother’s Day 2016

To Moms across our country who have sons and daughters guarding our nation’s ramparts in this time of war, my family’s thoughts are with you on this Sunday morning. Your trials and suffering, the fear late at night and the questions that linger in moments of solitude are understood by so few. Yet without your love, support and endurance, the defense of our country would not be possible. Yours is a journey few ask for, but many need. Bless you, and may your sons and daughters return home soon to your loving arms.

–John R. Bruning


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Chino Air Show 2016


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Chino Air Show, Day 2


Categories: Korean War, Uncategorized, World War II, World War II Europe, World War II in Europe, World War II in the Pacific | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Day One at Chino


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Warbirds Road Trip

Heading for the Chino Air Show today with more camera gear than I can carry!  Looking forward to sharing the images I capture of the amazing war birds that will be making low-level passes over the old Cal Aero Academy airfield out east of LA. This was the site of one of the USAAF’s primary flight training facilities, and many great aces went through the program there, including Gerald R. Johnson.

Will be road tripping down with my father, John Bruning Sr. This voyage to the Southern California desert is something we’ve been doing since the mid-1980’s. It either ends up being a 5 hour drive of awesome discussions on everything from current politics, history and economics, or we end up wanting to kill each other as we argue for hours over something totally ridiculous, like when the FM-2 Wildcat production run ended. The latter almost caused my son to jump out of the car somewhere on the Grapevine back in 2013. 🙂

Stay tuned. Have caffeine and a tranquilizer dart gun just in case my old man starts getting obnoxious….


—John R. Bruning (jr)

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Episode Three of podcast series

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Seen at FOB Leatherneck with the 162 Engineers


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John & Renee Do History–Again!

This episode, we find out how long Renee’s been wearing her Harry Potter sweats, how John stole a fuzzy North Korean-made blanket in Afghanistan, gave Renee Fireball to help combat Renee’s latest injury, all while discussing some remarkable American combat veterans from the Pacific Air War. We chat about the 475th Fighter Group, the 49th Fighter Group, what it is like to dogfight with a duck between your legs, what happened when 38 kill ace Tommy McGuire got bored and how a coin toss led a Mid-West Quaker kid to a moment of terrible decision over Wake Island in 1941.



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