VANITY PROMPTS ME TO EXPLAIN

IF YOU READ THE NOVEMBER 19, 2010 ISSUE OF THE SOUTH TEXAS CATHOLIC, THE DIOCESAN NEWSPAPER OF THE DIOCESE OF CORPUS CHRISTI,

you were probably shocked to see the photograph of me that appeared in connection with a wonderful article on members of the clergy of the Diocese that had served their Nation in the armed forces.  It was a valuable article that paid tribute to veterans during this month of the observance of Veterans Day.

The awful photograph of me was taken in January, 1945, at the Molesworth Air Base in England.  There was a regulation that required that all airmen had to have a set of passport photographs made before their first combat mission and be carried on their person on every mission over enemy territory.

The passport photos were intended to be used by the airman in the event that he was shot down over Germany.  In that event, should he be lucky enough to make contact with the underground resistance they would fabricate a fake passport for the airman that he could use in his effort to travel to Switzerland or some other neutral country.

Passport photos in general are never flattering, but these photos were purposely made to make the individual look like anything but a typical American 19 year old.  So, for the photo I had to wear old, disreputable civilian clothing, be unshaven and in general be made to look like a European peasant fresh from working in some grimy factory.

Thank God I never had to use those photos because even though I flew 32 combat missions over Germany and was shot at on most of those missions, I never had to bail out and land behind our lines in Germany.

Those photos must have been among the photos that my secretary gave the South Texas Catholic in 1983 little did I know that they would be published in 2010.

Vanity prompts me to offer this explanation to anyone who had the misfortune to see that awful photograph of me.

 


About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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