Kate Santich at the Orlando Sentinel shares the story of the helicopter pilot who captured the only known 3-D images from the Vietnam war.
From the skies above the battlefields and rice paddies, Joel Glenn snapped profoundly realistic pictures and sent them home to his wife Judy so she could “understand his strange new surroundings and his vantage point from the clouds.”
From the Orlando Sentinel:
“He thought flying was beautiful,” says Judy, now 69. “The clouds and the country were just gorgeous. He took 35-millimetre slides, (but) they didn’t show the depth he wanted me to see. He wanted me to know what it was like to fly.”
So Joel, then a 26-year-old chemical-engineering graduate from the University of Florida, sent away for a three-dimensional camera and started taking pictures — from the sky, from the ground and of everything from Vietnamese villagers’ routine cutting of rice fields to young fellow soldiers who wouldn’t make it home.
But that’s not all he did.
The couple also recorded cassette tapes for each other, having long-distance conversations as best they could. And now their unique correspondence throughout the war — his 3-D photos and their cassettes — have been brought together as a documentary by Discovery.
Sky Soldier: A Vietnam Story In 3D offers a unique and intimate perspective of the Vietnam war experience — from the field, to the home-front where Judy was raising their baby son in Gainesville, Florida:
“Judy ends one of her tapes with how much she and their son will miss Joel. And she says, ‘We can’t wait for you to get back 10 and a half months from now,'” says Tom Jennings, the program’s executive producer. “You hear that, and you think, ‘Oh, my God, they’re only a month and a half into this separation, and they have so far to go.'”
Their wartime story, like most others, is peppered with raw realities. Santich reports that one of Joel’s jobs was to gather the belongings of comrades killed in action; and his exposure to Agent Orange left him riddled with cancer. Despite that, he was eventually given fresh orders to go back to Vietnam.
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