Facing the Devil Dog


B-25 by Chip Bunnell Photography Events in Palm Beach Miami Florida

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Last week I had the privilege of attending the AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, WI. This week-long event brings aircraft from all corners and allows this normally quiet air field to gain the title of the “World’s Busiest Control Tower!” Among the 7,000 airplanes involved, there were literally hundreds from the WWII era. The “Devil Dog” is just one that was there.

The B-25 was built by North American Aviation with the goal of being a medium range bomber. In honor of General Billy Mitchell, an early pioneer of military aviation, this became known as the B-25 Mitchell. Built mostly in Kansas City, KS, over 9,000 of these highly effective aircraft were flown. During production, there were a number of variations and improvements made. Most commonly, the B-25 is see with a clear nose that would include a gunner for forward actions. This particular plane is a 1944 Marine model known as a PBJ – Patrol Bomber J (from North American Aviation). It was primarily used for aerial support in Marine operation throughout the Pacific. The B-25 is most notably known for the historic Doolittle Raid.

On April 18, 1942, just months after Pearl Harbor, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle led 16 B-25s in a daring attack against the island of Japan. Many thought this mission was absurd as the plan required these bombers to be launched from an aircraft carrier, something only reserved for fighters and rescue flights. Despite the enormous odds, they did complete the mission, disrupting the Japanese confidence with a fear of future attacks on their homeland. Their story is quite incredible. I encourage you to learn more of their sacrifice at: http://www.doolittleraider.com. Of the 80 involved, there are only 5 of these heroic men still with us today.

I selected this image due to the color and interest the clouds give to the fuselage. From this aggressive angle, it is clear this aircraft means business!

3 Frame Hand-Held HDR, Processed in LR and Topaz Clarity


LOCATION :: A Beacon on Duval Street


Key West_BUNNELL-06232013-56_7_8_HDR-MEKey West is well known for its incredible sunsets, a very famous writer referred to as “papa” and just a little craziness along Duval Street. You can sing well known songs while eating cheeseburgers in a paradisiacal venue and later that day have, without a doubt, the single best piece of key lime pie you will ever taste. The mornings start late (unless you are on a dive boat) and the nights run long. From all my many travels, I can assure you that the southernmost point of the continental US is a place unlike any other. Ironically, on that very same Duval Street, surrounded by numerous tourist t-shirt shops and adult beverage establishments, there is an unlikely venue that has stood for over 180 years – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

In 1831 the City Council of Key West gave public notice of the desire to establish the parish on this tiny, very remote island. The 1st service was held in the County Courthouse on Christmas Day, 1832. Land for the church was donated that same year by the widow of John William Charles Fleming, with the only stipulation that his remains stay where they were buried on that very property. To this day, that request has been honored.

The original church building was built in 1838-1839 and was constructed of locally found coral rock. It was only 38’x58’, a good size for an island that measures only 2 miles x 4 miles. This building was destroyed by a hurricane on October 11, 1846. A 2nd wooden structure followed measuring 28’x66’. The congregation soon outgrew its 350 seating capacity. Sadly, this building was destroyed in the Great Fire of Key West on March 31, 1886. The 3rd church as completed in 1887 with a larger size of 58’x98’. In 1890 a chime of bells was purchased. When they rang on Palm Sunday morning, March 22, 1891, they were the 1st chime of bells in the state of Florida.

Another hurricane took its toll in 1909 and the 4th church was completed in 1911. Unlike previous buildings, this structure was made of concrete. The 1st services in this new church were held on June 8, 1919. The beautiful stained glass windows were installed in 1920 and a pipe organ was in place for the 1931 Christmas services. Despite this design, the structure was still not safe – not from fire or mighty storms, but rather rust. How can rust impact a concrete building? From the unseen inside, of course.

Its fate dated back to the construction of 1910 when seawater and beach sand were used to mix the concrete. The high salt content caused the steel rebar deep inside the concrete walls to rust, lose their strength and allow large cracks to form. Fortunately, a major renovation was undertaken in 1991-1993 to stabilize and revitalize the structure for the enjoyment of many decades to come. While this is a great deal of detail, I share it so you can appreciate the long history of this structure that has been a beacon many over the centuries.

Key West is one of my favorite destinations. At least once a year, I make the 5 hour drive south for my fix of real key lime pie, hopefully catch a dive and take-in the sights, sounds and sunsets that only this island can offer. Each time, my beautiful wife and I enjoy a quick visit to this church to escape the afternoon sun, admire the detail of the stained glass windows and marvel at the unique island feel and history that is built in to its very foundation. This image shows the famous windows positioned on all sides and the simple elegance that fills the interior.

3 Frame Hand Held HDR, Processed in Photomatix Pro and LR