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Aviation History Buff Discovers Priceless Indiana Military Photographs
by U.S. Army Spc. Evan Myers - July 9, 2015

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - David Parker (30), an aircraft mechanic residing in Bloomington, Illinois, and a long-time collector of Indiana aviation history memorabilia, stumbled upon a historical gold mine on May 30, 2015 ... when his interest led to him acquiring a stockpile of photographs, newspaper clippings, and several miscellaneous personal documents that belonged to photojournalist Sgt. Fred Mangold. Mangold was a soldier who enlisted in the Indiana National Guard in 1928 and served in the 113th Observation Squadron, photo section for more than a decade.

A group of soldiers take a short break while on a training exercise in Wisconsin, 1940s. (Indiana Army National Guard Air Corps photo by Sgt. Fred Mangold)
A group of soldiers take a short break while on a training exercise in Wisconsin, 1940s. (Indiana Army National Guard Air Corps photo by Sgt. Fred Mangold)

Parker purchased the photos three years ago online from an anonymous seller who had inherited them from a family member. The collection he purchased consists of a box containing approximately 400 vintage photographs dated from the 1920s to the 1940s, all taken by Mangold during his time in service as a photographer with the U.S. military. At the time of his enlistment, the U.S. Air Force did not yet exist, so Mangold belonged to the Indiana Army Air Corps.

“To a history nerd like me, this is like a treasure trove,” Parker said. “About 90 of the pictures were taken in Indiana, mostly at Stout field in Indianapolis, and all of the rest of them were taken on assignments in various other parts of the country.”

Many of the photographs in Parker's collection tell a story all by themselves. Flipping through one of Mangold's scrapbooks, Parker displayed a few of his favorite photos within the collection, including multiple shots of Maj. Richard Taylor of the 38th Division Air Corps, who was in a fatal plane crash during a training exercise at Fort Knox, Kentucky. Also featured in Parker's collection is a photograph—presumably taken by one of Mangold's colleagues—of Mangold posing with famous Hoosier and namesake of the Indianapolis International Airport H. “Weir” Cook, a World War 1 American Fighter Ace and recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross.

“I've looked through these photos several times, and I still find new things,” Parker said. “Sometimes it feels like overload when you're looking at them all, and you'll see a detail in the background that you didn't notice before, or you'll see how one picture correlates to another, and it just adds to the story.”

Beyond just photographs, the collection also includes a number of personal documents and other items that used to belong to Mangold, including his driver's license, birth certificate, and even a decorated tire flap taken from Mangold's personal vehicle. Parker's wife Catrina, a graduate student at Illinois State University, said that while she is not the history aficionado her husband is, she does enjoy rummaging through the old photographs with him while he explains the significance of each picture.

“Sometimes I have no idea what he's talking about,” she admitted with a grin. “But I do love his enthusiasm for it all.”

David Parker plans to maintain ownership of Sgt. Mangold's photograph collection, and he expressed that he wishes to share the photos and the stories he has discovered with anyone who wishes to learn.

“I believe that it's important to preserve all history,” Parker said. “I don't necessarily want them to just be locked away in my closet. I'd like people to see this stuff.”

More photos available in frame below

By U.S. Army Spc. Evan Myers
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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