As four of the only five remaining crew members of the USS Arizona met this week to commemorate the attack on Pearl Harbor 75 years ago, artist Paolo Cascio wanted to say thank you in the only way he knew how — photography.
Cascio, a Chicago-based photographer and filmmaker, joined the veterans on a five-day journey, capturing the four men as they saluted the crew members that never left the harbor on December 7, 1941. As Cascio documented the event and interviewed the veterans, a film crew from Smug Mug captured a behind-the-scenes look at Cascio’s work, released on Friday. The photographer’s images will be used in a coffee table-style book, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the USS Arizona Memorial Foundation.
Almost half of all casualties from the attack on Pearl Harbor were crew members of the USS Arizona, with 334 survivors and a loss of 1,177 crew members. Out of those survivors, only five veterans, between ages 93 and 96, remain: Howard Kenton Potts, coxswain; Lauren Bruner, fire controlman, third class; Lou Conter, quartermaster, third class; Lonnie Cook, seaman, first class; Donald Stratton, seaman, first class.
Cascio says that one of his passions is documenting veterans through his photography. The lifestyle photographer donated his time for the project and raised travel and equipment expenses through a Go Fund Me page.
“For me, this is a passion project and one that comes purely from heart,” Cascio said. “It’s been a long path that’s lead me here, a path of over 30 years working in Hollywood and honing my craft behind the camera. Along with my passion for documenting veterans, this amazing group of people that deserve our utmost respect for their sacrifice is what’s led me here. I want to honor these men the best way I know how, and that’s through my photography by capturing not only what’s happening but the feeling and overwhelming emotion that’s going on here. The thing that I hope to leave behind from my week with these men is a gift that says thank you.”
Cascio plans to sell the completed photography book at the USS Arizona gift shop as well as in bookstores and online.