New exhibit on Vietnam War honors the work of U.S. Army combat photographers

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Chicago's Pritzker Military Museum & Library to unveil 'FACES OF WAR' exhibit this week

Rootin' Tootin' Raspberry, 1969. Photo by Captain Roger Hawkins, U.S. Army.

Rootin' Tootin' Raspberry, 1969. Photo by Captain Roger Hawkins, U.S. Army.

This exhibit is a reflection of the Vietnam that every American soldier witnessed firsthand—from the jungles to the cities and everywhere in between

Original photographs and motion pictures by the men of Department of the Army Special Photographic Office (DASPO) are at the center of a new exhibit by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library on the Vietnam War, to be unveiled Thursday at a free public reception. The event will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Museum & Library and will be immediately followed by a live recording of "Citizen Soldier," featuring a discussion by DASPO veterans of the vital role played by these elite special operations teams during the war.

The exhibit—titled FACES OF WAR: Documenting the Vietnam War from the Front Lines—includes dozens of rarely seen photos and motion pictures from Vietnam; a collection of artifacts, including original cameras, gear, and equipment; and an audio tour with commentary by DASPO veterans on their experiences and the legacy of their work.

“This exhibit is a reflection of the Vietnam that every American soldier witnessed firsthand—from the jungles to the cities and everywhere in between,” said Museum & Library President & CEO Kenneth Clarke. “And it’s thanks to the extraordinary courage and dedication of the special operations photographers of DASPO that the Museum & Library is able to share their stories with the public.”

First activated by President John F. Kennedy in 1962 with the objective of providing non-biased information to the U.S. Department of Defense, the Department of the Army, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United States Congress, DASPO had a permanent unit stationed in Southeast Asia by 1968. Deploying aboard helicopters, Air Force C-130s, and even non-military aircraft, teams of DASPO photographers operated much like civilian journalists covering the war, but with nearly unlimited access—producing some of the most iconic and important images from Vietnam.

“I’m proud of the men of DASPO with whom I’ve served, and we are grateful to the Pritzker Military Museum & Library for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to inform the American public about who we were as combat photographers and what we and our fellow veterans went through,” said Bill San Hamel, a former captain in the U.S. Army who now serves as president of the DASPO Combat Photographers Association.

San Hamel and fellow DASPO veteran Ted Acheson—each of whom will participate in the Citizen Soldier program along with photographer Dick Durrance—were instrumental in helping to plan and execute the exhibit, raising more than $30,000 to cover operating costs from members and supporters of the association. Additional funds were raised through private donations and a Kickstarter campaign, which remains active.

The exhibit is scheduled to run until May 2016 and is accompanied by an online gallery of images that will remain viewable indefinitely at http://www.pritzkermilitary.org/DASPO. Learn more about “FACES OF WAR” or register to attend the exhibit opening by visiting http://www.pritzkermilitary.org.

ABOUT THE PRITZKER MILITARY MUSEUM & LIBRARY
The Pritzker Military Museum & Library is open to the public and features an extensive collection of books, artifacts, and rotating exhibits covering many eras and branches of the military. Since opening in 2003, it has become a center where citizens and Citizen Soldiers come together to learn about military history and the role of the Armed Forces in today’s society. The Museum & Library is a non-partisan, non-government information center supported by its members and sponsors.

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Megan Williams
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