Steichen Sent Me

Led by famed fashion photographer Edward Steichen, a group of camera men captured the action of World War II naval aviation.

A Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat from Fighter Squadron 5 awaits clearance to launch from the aircraft carrier Yorktown on November 20, 1943. Squadron 5 had been assigned to hit targets in the Marshall Islands. (Lt. Charles Kerlee)

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Gallagher made the flight, leaving a Navy captain confused and disgruntled at how a junior officer could have received such high-powered orders.

He encountered similar reactions when he arrived in the Pacific. Gallagher had heard from the other unit members that the best course of action was to get attached temporarily to an admiral’s staff while on ships and under way.

“This would accomplish a few things right off the bat,” Gallagher said. “It would guarantee you a rack and a laundry ticket, but most of all it kept you from having to stand long boring watches—that’s because junior officers, once on board ship, were looked upon as free labor and assigned to various duties and watches—but no one dared mess with those assigned to the flag staff.”

Such was the case for Gallagher as he reported on board the aircraft carrier Intrepid, then the flagship of Rear Admiral Gerald Bogan, with his vaunted orders in hand.

“Once onboard, I first asked to see Bogan and then I asked him personally to join his staff,” Gallagher said.

“Son, what do your orders say?” Bogan asked, sizing up the brash young lieutenant and photographer in front of him.

“Sir, my orders are to go wherever I want, stay as long as I want and to return home when I feel like it,” Gallagher recalled saying as he handed his paperwork to the man wearing a single admiral’s star on his collar—royalty in Navy circles.

“Well, boy, why don’t you go and get something to eat and come and see me when I’ve had the time to read these amazing orders,” Bogan said.

When he returned later, Gallagher was greeted by the now-amazed admiral in his stateroom and braced himself for a butt chewing for his behavior.

“Son, I’ll be dammed if your orders aren’t exactly as you stated,” Bogan said, getting up from a chair and extending his hand to the photographer. “Welcome to my staff!” he said while shaking Gallagher’s hand.

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