Hello and welcome to my GoFundMe page! I'm excited to to tell you about a very special project that is near and dear to my heart that started eight years ago. Back in 2011, I came across a newspaper article announcing a special event for the 70th anniversary of Pearl Harbor while I was working on a movie in Atlanta. I thought it would be a fascinating thing to be able to go photograph this and potentially meet a Pearl Harbor survivor, so I drove 2 hrs in the rain to attend it. Unfortunately when I finally got out there it had been canceled due to weather. So the following day I contacted the VFW to see if I could locate the survivor that was scheduled to attend, and see if there was anyway I might be able to photograph him. Unfortunately, no one ever responded to me even after multiple calls.
I then took it upon myself as a personal quest to try to locate one of the Pearl Harbor survivors that was aboard the USS Arizona, which was a massive undertaking and took me 5 years before I found one, and when I did, it turned out to be through Nikki Stratton (the granddaughter of one of the survivors) who’s father Randy was organizing the 75th anniversary celebration for the remaining five of survivors (at the time) I was warmly welcomed by the Stratton family me to attend the anniversary and given permission to photograph it. As this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, I made a decision to leave my job I was on to volunteer my time to be their exclusive photographer for not only the the 75th, but also the 76th anniversary as well.
So you might be asking yourself why would I walk away from a paying job to go do something for free that would cost thousands of dollars out of my own pocket plus lost revenue from work? Well, the answer was quite simple. I felt a huge tug on my heart, and an obligation and a desire to be able to do something to say thank you to these heroes that served our country, and to utilize the gifts and talents that I have been blessed with behind a camera. There is something so rewarding about serving and giving back to people and getting to attend the 75th and 76th anniversaries at Pearl Harbor was truly the greatest adventures of my life. And now with the recent announcements and events that have occurred this year with Arizona survivor Lou Conter returning for a final visit, and Lauren Bruner becoming the final Arizona survivor to ever be interred on the ship, I just couldn’t say no and pass up an opportunity to photograph another part of history.
While I probably could have had enough content from previous visits to put together my coffee table book celebrating the 75th and 76th anniversaries , it truly would never be the same unless I was able to photograph these two very important events. I have been volunteering my time to serve veterans for the last eight years now, but traveling down the street for a local Veterans Day event in my neighborhood, and the incredible expenses of traveling thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean are two very different things. I can honestly say that without the help of generous donations from the people like you that care about our country’s history, along with these brave me that have fought and served to protect it, this project would have been impossible to finance on my own. So that is why this final fundraising campaign was necessary for me to initiate.
Thank you for your time and consideration to learn about this project and caring about these veterans. This has truly been one of the greatest opportunities of my life to be able to have met the last few remaining survivors of the USS Arizona, (there are currently only three remaining; Donald G. Stratton 97, Lou Conter 98, and Ken Potts 99) and to proudly serve these men and their families with my photography. I am completely committed to this project and I cannot wait to start assembling the images once this final trip is completed. My large format coffee table book “A Tribute to Valor” will celebrate the stories and events of The Greatest Generation, and will guarantee that these events and memories will live on on history so no one will ever forget the historical relevance and significance of Pearl Harbor.
In closing, I would like to extend an invitation for you to make a donation of any amount towards making this trip possible so this very important work can be completed. You can also play an important part in helping support this project by sharing this link with your friends, colleagues, or organization. All of the names of people that have donated will be listed on a Special Thank You page in the book.
Dana Point, CA
- Paul Chuma
- Marilyn Walsh
- Devin Kriesant
- Brent Dowler
- Sally Ellis
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