Eugene Wozniak was a combat photographer who served in the CBI, as part of the 491st Bomb Squadron. He took many official photographs while in China, as part of his military responsibilities. At the same time, it seems that photographers were given some latitude in what they photographed, and he took many of the environment around him and people taking part in daily activities.
Many of these photographs he sent back to the US, to his family, bit by bit, and over time this made quite a collection--several thousand by the end. The images he sent back were generally in the form of black and white photographs, but he also collected some black and white negatives, as well as a few color negatives, and some are of exquisite clarity. Although most may have been shot by Mr. Wozniak, it is certain that some photos were shot by others, as there is much evidence that photographers exchanged images, both among themselves, as well as supplying photographs to others who did not have access to a camera. Indeed, we have discovered that a few photos in the Wozniak collection match not only some in that US National Archives, but also in some other private veteran collections.
Among this collection are photos from a wide number of areas, including traveling on a ship, stateside, possibly India, and mostly of locations in China, including areas like Yangkai (Yangjie), Kunming, and the Camp Schiel Rest Station east of Kunming, in Yunnan province China, as well as shots along the road in Guizhou province, and quite a number in Guangxi province, for example, at the Liuchow (Liuzhou) air base and nearby town, and possibly even a shot of two from the US air base at Kweilin (Guilin).
Nearly 2000 of these photos have been scanned by Remembering Shared Honor, and many are on this website, with more being processed gradually. A sampling of images is included here: Eugene T. Wozniak Collection.
We hope that Mr. Wozniak's photos can educate many people about American servicemen in China and India, about Chinese life at the time, and about Chinese-American interaction between 1943 and 1945.
Photos from the collection of Eugene T. Wozniak, 491st Bomb Squadron, provided to RSH courtesy of his nephew Ken Easdon via Tony Strotman.
Eugene Wozniak was in the original personnel shipment, arriving Calcutta in early December 1942, and his official Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) was 'aerial photographer/gunner' (MOS 939). Theoretically, he should have completed his tour and returned to the USA with the other personnel in October 1944. However, the photo cache includes pictures of personnel celebrating the end of the war, August 1945. Thus, he must have extended. If that is the case he would have departed Yangkai sometime during Sept, been assigned to a troop transport and arrived stateside in late October, 1945.
After the war, Eugene Wozniak taught photo composition and advanced photographic techniques to hundreds of people, according this his nephew Ken Easdon. Mr. Wozniak had one sibling, a sister, Mary, who passed away in April, 2000. He never married. His parents and sister passed away before him, and he passed away in 2001. Ken Easdon, nephew and his only living relative, inherited all of Eugene's property, and he in turn passed the collection on to Tony Strotman.
Mr. Strotman, over the course of several summers, made the images available to Remembering Shared Honor, and Patrick Lucas, scanned them at high resolution over many days and late nights, trying to create archive-quality electronic copies. "Each image was a discovery of history, liking looking back in time. In many cases I felt I was possibly the only person to see some of these people, places, or events, in over 60 years," remembers Mr. Lucas, "Maybe some people can't understand, but a person can only feel a sense of reverence, both to the history itself, and to the people, in such a situation.
(Much thanks to Tony Strotman for additional background information.)
Above: Eugene T. Wozniak with a Speed Graphic camera in the CBI during WWII.