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Al Bullock spots his old photo

SMILE — Sitting in front of a large collection of World War II cameras, Belmont’s Al Bullock holds the first camera he used 30 years ago when he started as a cameraman at Channel 7. The Navy veteran was surprised to see his World War IIshot of a damaged aircraft carrier appear on a book cover. Daily News photo by Tony Avelar.

Feb. 11, 2003

San Mateo Daily News
Palo Alto Daily News


A Belmont World War II veteran who both made and documented history was surprised to see a picture he took on the cover of a new book about the war that tells the stories of the men he served with.

Al Bullock, 80, said his daughter came across the book, “Lucky Lady: the World War II heroics of the USS Santa Fe and Franklin” by Steve Jackson, on the Internet.

“I didn’t know this book was coming out,” Bullock said. “After 58 years, here’s a picture that I took.”

Bullock served aboard the USS Santa Fe during the entire war. The cruiser was nicknamed the Lucky Lady because it managed to avoid sustaining casualties throughout the war. At one point, it was struck by a torpedo that failed to detonate on impact and exploded harmlessly in the ship’s wake.

Bullock was the ship’s photographer and was charged with documenting everything, from the firing of the ship’s guns to the downing of enemy aircraft.

Bullock’s video footage and photographs are in the National Archives and have been used in documentaries on the History and Discovery channels.

The photo used on the book, taken on March 19, 1945, shows the Lucky Lady pulling alongside a smoldering USS Franklin, the heavily damaged aircraft carrier listing to starboard, its crew gathered on the deck.

The vessel had been struck by two 500-pound bombs dropped by a lone Japanese aircraft a mere 80 miles from Japan.

“They hit the ship at the most crucial point,” where planes were being loaded with fuel and ordnance, Bullock said.

The Lucky Lady came to the carrier’s aid, but the captain refused to abandon ship. The wounded were transferred off the Franklin and the remaining crew guided the vessel home. Out of a crew of some 3,000, about 1,100 were killed by the bombs and the explosions that followed.

Since the book came out, Bullock has been in touch with the author and will be appearing with him to discuss his memories of the war on at 1:30 pm Feb. 22 on the USS Hornet, docked in Alameda.

On the same day, the Iwo Jima Survivors Association — Bullock is an honorary ember for the aerial photography work he did over the island — will meet at 10 a.m. in Golden Gate Park.

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