George’s Service Book

Some of this material appeared in an earlier post. I happened to stumble upon that post a few days ago and didn’t like the way that it looked. I could have easily reformatted it, but I thought that the material warranted another exposure and I wanted to scan some of the images again, so this is an update of that earlier post. The text below is largely from that earlier appearance in Crossings. The images are new scans, including some pages and photos that did not appear before. All images are Copyright by the Estate of George Pauly. Text is copyright by RRAlexander.

Last year Lisa and I moved the contents of my mother-in-law’s storage unit to a larger unit because there are more pieces of furniture, chests, and boxes to go into storage and the old unit is not large enough. When we tried to move my late father-in-law’s desk, we had to remove the drawers to reduce the weight, and in the process of moving the drawers, we discovered a photo album that covered the time he was in the U.S. Army during World War Two.

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When my father-in-law, George Pauly, was alive he and I had a couple conversations about his time in the service. A member of the 428th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, he had fought in the Pacific Theater. I found it interesting, like the stories I have heard from other members of the “Greatest Generation” over the years.

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Years later, I surprised Lisa by filling in the “blanks” about his time in the service. I don’t remember how it came up but I told her the basic facts about his time in the Army. She was surprised that I knew anything about it.

“How do you know that?”, She asked.

I shrugged. “I asked him about it, and he talked about it.”

She was a bit puzzled. “Oh. He never talked about it when I was at home.”

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The photos shown here are from his photograph album, an olive green album with the title, My Days In The Service embossed into the front cover. The photos in the album cover home life before he entered the service, being stationed in San Bernardino, California after basic training, time spent in Hawaii for jungle training, and the period when he fought in the Philippines.

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The pages shown here are from Hawaii (T.I., Territorial Islands) and The Philippines. Unfortunately, many of the photos from the Philippines are quite faded. Those photos appear to be from a half frame camera or are simple small prints and the quality of the paper is not as good as the prints in the rest of the album. I could barely make out (or guess) the subjects of those prints using a 10X loupe. 

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George was the photographer, so he is not in the majority of the photos in the album. There is only one photograph of him on the island of Leyte. At least it is the only one that I can identify as being him.

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I was on the other end of his lens a few times and can easily imagine that it was difficult for him to allow someone else to take control of the camera. It makes me smile whenever I think about it. Having known him, it isn’t hard to understand that 99% of the photos in the collection are of other people. He was a slow and very deliberate photographer. He always took great pains to get the exposure and framing right, even if it meant that his subjects frequently became exasperated while waiting for him to press the shutter button.

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What I found as interesting as the photos themselves were the comments in George’s careful hand script, and the “cover pages” that divided the sections. I also like the choice of black pages with white script, which is a superior way to display the contents in that medium. Considering that the album is likely to be at least sixty-five years old (it appears to have been put together after the war), I’m glad he decided to use the black paper with white ink, rather than the more common white paper with black ink, since white paper would be extremely yellowed by now.

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