Americans love their war heroes. If you don’t, maybe you’re not really an American! Our veterans left their homes and families (and, in many cases, a poverty-stricken future) to fight on the front lines in the battle for peace and global supremacy, many of them losing life or limb in the unbelievably brutal process. Still, love them dearly though we may, there’s plenty left unrevealed about The Greatest Generation… like how great their asses were.
In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Taschen Books has announced the September 2014 release of ‘My Buddy: World War II Laid Bare’, a collection of more than 500 photographs sourced and compiled by Los Angeles photographer Michael Stokes. Edited by noted men’s magazine producer and Taschen veteran Dian Hanson, My Buddy depicts the close relationships formed under the barrage of artillery fire. As encouraged by their commanding officers, ground troops formed “buddy” relationships with each other that ensured they had someone to rely on for emotional support. In times of great, even inhuman stress, playtime is usually a gosh darn riot! And, when your playmates are all strapping young 18, 19, 20-year-old fellas fighting for home and country, it’s pretty easy on the eyes too.
In his introduction, ex-Marine and author of Hollywood sexploit memoir Full Service, Scotty Bowers, lays it out in its most basic terms: “You close your eyes for a little bit, but don’t really sleep. It’s raining. You’re wet and it rains, frankly, every day and every night. Some guys huddle together, some don’t, but this is when the buddy bonding starts. You need somebody you can depend on, and they can depend on you. You can tell the type of buddy that you’d want to be with in a foxhole: Someone who is on the ball. Someone who’s not going to get upset and nervous.”
Eschewing the combat photography that has become a staple of WWII tributes and remembrances in favor of showing what a grunt’s downtime might involve – communal bathing, sandy oceanside frolicking, makeshift mountaintop showers, impromptu beefcake shoots on equipment cases, naked rainforest romps during the Guadalcanal campaign, and just plain ol’ semi-naked hand-holding – My Buddy aims to shed a little light on the underreported romances (platonic or otherwise) that spring up where you might least (or most, depending on your perspective on men-in-uniform) expect it: the trenches of War World II.