by Alexander F. Barnes
Among the many similarities of soldiers from all recent historical periods, two in particular stand out: First, soldiers (and Marines, sailors, and airmen) love to have their picture taken. Second, they have a sense of humor that is often lost on outsiders. And in this case, outsiders would be defined as the civilian world, people from different eras, and even fellow soldiers outside the immediate group being photographed.
As a modern example of the phenomena described above, when I was serving in Co. L, Marine Support Battalion in Guantanamo Bay in 1975, we had no Christmas tree to decorate. So, we cut some long limbs from local cactus, jammed them into a garbage can, and decorated it as a “Cuban Christmas tree.” I’m sure that many photos exist of our efforts in the scrapbooks of the guys from the unit, but, without captions, those photos will leave future historians scratching their heads and wondering, “What were they thinking?”
For the Doughboys of World War I who were training in the States or serving in France and Germany, there were no end of opportunities to take pictures — and leave us wondering the same thing. Here are just a few that leave us wondering, “What were they thinking?”