Professional Photographers about their experiences with

Graflex Cameras

Kevin T. Carol kindly wrote to me after visiting my pages: "...thanks for the trip down memory lane."

Guardian Angel at Korean War

Uses Graflex to achieve his goal

After my Infantry Training at Camp Geiger in North Carolina, I was first assigned to the 2nd Topographic Company at Geiger as a Still Photographer. My immediate Supervisor (and mentor) was Staff Sergeant Joseph Skymba. (Maybe just "Staff Sgt. Joe")

He was a front-line combat photographer during the Korean conflict. The whole thing was a very nasty, harsh, cold and deadly business. One day, in bright sunshine, Joe sat down at the base of a large tree to rest awhile. He was holding his Speed Graphic by the handle strap, the camera bed was down and it was ready to shot. He had the camera in his left hand, with his elbow bent so that the body of the camera and the bed were up sort-of shading his face. In his right hand was a cigarette.

In an instant, the camera was ripped from his hand, hitting him in the face and blood starting flowing from his upper and lower lips. It seems that a North Korean sniper had sighted on his neck, just below the helmet line and missed. His bullet tore through the center of the bed, between the rails and then passed between his lips, scraping his front teeth and cutting both lips.

I actually saw the camera and Joe showed me the scars on his lips and you could easily see where his teeth had been scraped and then repaired. The Speed Graphic surely saved his life. If he wasn't holding it in just that way, the sniper would have had a much better shot at Joe's neck.

By Kevin T. Carrol

Kevin T. Carrol :

The raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi at Iwo Jima, was a "fake"!

Its almost 40 years ago, but I distinctly recall ..

Yes, Press 25 rings a bell for bulbs and f-11 or f-16 with flash at 1/200th using the photo-pan b&w packs. These were yellow tin pack of twelve shots each separated by black paper. Each separator had a tab. When the tab was pulled the film was carried around to the rear of the pack and a new sheet was placed in the ready position. As I mentioned, we also used cut film.

You'd have been surprised at our "lab". Along with the nitrogen burst C lines and 4 huge drum dryers and automatic roll fed b&w printers, we had a huge custom portrait studio with enough strobe power to create lightening! We also had a huge computer-operated, edge-enhancement enlarger that was used for secret topographic work.

We photographed all living Medal of Honor Winners while I was there and we maintained all the archival footage from the Marine Combat Photographers. A lot was eyemo and filmo stuff shot on the South Pacific Islands. Beyond belief! Flame thrower stuff, up-close machine gun and M-1 action, even some hand to hand footage.

The most famous Marine Corps photo. The raising of the flag on Mt. Suribachi at Iwo Jima, was a "fake"! I personally talked with the man who made the picture. At that time he was working for the Marine Corps Magazine and had offices in our Company A compound. He told me that he was trudging along with a group of guys and one of them was a Guideon -- a flag bearer. He saw the rise of rocks outcropped ahead and ran up there and asked for the flag guy and a few other to come up and "act" as if they were planting the flag. Ira Hayes was the last guy up. He shooed away a few others that would have made the scene too crowded. Then he ran back down to the path they were originally on and made the photo that went around the world! Well staged.

No fake at all!

As to this subject I got a comment from Mr. Vincent Musi:  

I think you site is very informative about the cameras. Your information on Joe Rosenthal, the photographer who made the Iwo Jima photograph is not. Please consider this information and a personal plea to correct the info on your site.


Marine Corp Photography

I was a U. S. Marine Corps Still Photographer (MOS-4631) That means Military Occupational Specialty and 4631 is a still photographer.

I recall one very embarrassing incident that occurred while I was stationed at Headquarters Marine Corps in 1958. I was in Company A or The Headquarters Company housed at Arlington, VA just near the U. S. Naval Annex where the Commandant of the Marines has his office ... along with all the other very big brass in the Corps. On occasion, myself or one of the other men in our Photo Unit would be called on to photograph promotional ceremonies at the Naval Annex. We'd shoot promotions of Bird Colonels on up. That means from full colonel, men who wear the silver eagle and on through the general ranks from Brigadier General-1 star through Lieutenant General-3 star.

If there was a promotion from Major General to Lieutenant General, that was considered a big deal and it always happened in the Commandant's Office with the Wife and Kids of the guy being promoted and various other notables in attendance. This particular incident happened when a 2-star stationed on Okinawa Island was being promoted to a 3-star. I was picked to shoot the job. In the photo Unit we all kept our camera gear separate. I was issued my own Speed Graphic with all the accessories. We had a $1 million lab and processed our own b&w and color film and prints. I was shooting this job in b&w and color. Our camera lockers were considered sacrosanct. Nobody fooled with anyone else's gear ... period. Except that in our Unit at that time there was a particularly nasty Sergeant who felt that God had called on him to run one section of the Universe ... our photo lab.

This promotion was a big deal! Not just for the General - getting to hang-out with the Commandant, etc. But, also for the very young (19) photographer doing the shoot. I went over to the office set them all the way I wanted them and shot away. Took about 12 to 18 shots using film pack for the b&w and individually loaded cut film holders for the color. Everyone was radiant and I felt great about the shots. I returned to the lab triumphant and gave the film to the processing folks. A short time later, the head of the lab came to me in a fury. There's nothing on the @#$%$#@& film! What the ___ happened?

To make a long story short. That nasty sergeant took it upon himself to draw my dark curtain across the focal plane. In that we rarely, if ever, shot anything using ground glass - we never bothered with that slide curtain. He purposefully set me up knowing that I had no reason to see if that curtain were drawn! Bad guy. Meanwhile, the Lieutenant General and Family were already flying back to Okinawa. A week later they returned and the scene was reshot but not by me. There's was nothing I could do! It was technically my responsibility to check my camera before every use. None of us ever did. The Sergeant was a loud-mouthed pipsqueak with a Napoleonic complex and a tight buddy of the lab boss. So, I didn't really get in any serious trouble but neither did he.

Bad day in the annals of Marine Corp Photography.

I may think of others. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 

My Best, Kevin Carroll


Everett Allen Fleharty

My highest compliments to you on one of the best websites on ALL levels I have ever seen!!!!! Fantastic job!!!

My dad used this equipment (Graflex large format) during World War II and I have always had a spot in my heart for it.

Keep up the good work!!!!!


I recall a couple of stories immediately....

My father:

 Corporal William H. Fleharty, III (1922-1990) 20th. Air Force 

China Burma India (CBI) Pacific Theater  M.O.S. : Photographer during World War Two.

 Member of "The Greatest Generation"

I remember him telling me of a time they needed to inspect the inside of a
wing on a B-29. No one could figure out how they could accomplish such a
feat. My dad, being a very innovative type person, was able to rig up a
camera and take pictures inside the wing while physically standing on the
outside of the plane. He always had a soft spot for the B-29's.

Additionally, I had one of his Army buddies relay to me at my dad's funeral
about the day some MP's came to him early one morning; they blindfolded him
and carried him off without a word to anyone. Late that night they returned
him to the base (in India) the same way....blindfolded. It was later
revealed they had flown him over Japan to shoot aerial photos of possible
sites to drop the first atomic bomb. Growing up, he had never, ever said a
word about it. Ironically, he made a living from selling Japanese produced
photo equipment made by Kowa, Konica, Minolta, etc. How I wish I had just
five more minutes to talk to him. Truly a member of "the greatest

He spoke often of "flying the hump" and mentioned once of the plane catching
fire (as the early B-29's were prone to do) and how his parachute got hung
up, preventing him from bailing out. Fortunately, they were able to
extinguish the fire and return to base.

I had a picture he took aboard ship when he arrived at Okinawa showing an
American shell which had lodged itself directly in the muzzle of a Japanese
gun emplacement. Quite a shot.

Let me "simmer" a bit and see what else comes to mind.

Again, I count it a real blessing I stumbled upon your web site.

Everett Allen

Mr Lommen,
 I have not dug too deep into all your pages, but I am impressed in the quality of it...a carryover I am sure from your high standards in all you do. Yes, the Graflex camera was a large part of my 20 year experience in the air force...It went much further into aerial recon photography and high precision processing of thin base Mylar 9.5 inch x 12,000 foot from the U-2 aircraft flown by Chinese pilots over mainland china, and then from US pilots flying missions over Indochina.....I finished my career at 2nd Air Force headquarters in the Command post, where my self, another photographer, and several graphic artist types provided briefing viewgraphs, color slides and computer generated slides....I enjoyed almost every minute...Starting my career in Landsberg, Germany back in 1953...I was in an outfit with Country Singer Johnny Cash, altho I did not know him at that time.......mlm

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