World War II bombers once roared through the Grand Canyon

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World War II bombers once roared through the Grand Canyon

‘Terrified visitors on the South Rim craned their necks to see what was coming’
Trained as a Navy pilot before joining the U.S. Marine Corps, Capt. David Gulliford flew a B-24 Liberator bomber below the rim of the Grand Canyon to practice landscape photography. He would use aerial reconnaissance skills against the Japanese in the South Pacific from a base on the Solomon Islands.
David Gulliford smiles in his flight suit. As the pilots left to fly over the Pacific, their equipment list included a parachute bag and harness, heated flying suit, helmet, ear phones, goggles, gloves, sunglasses, sleeping bag, pistol and knife, and a “Mae West” life jacket.
Capt. David Gulliford poses with his flight crew. While other bomber crews painted bombs on their planes’ fuselages to mark successful missions, the pilots of VMD-254 painted cameras on the outside of their B-24 Liberators.
Young Marine pilots stand beside the first B-24 bomber to arrive at Camp Kearny near San Diego. These planes had a notoriously poor safety record and hundreds crashed in the South Pacific. VMD-254 would become the first Marine photo squadron. The squadron’s goal was to quickly make photo mosaic maps before land invasions by U.S. Marines.

World War II bombers once roared through the Grand Canyon

Trained as a Navy pilot before joining the U.S. Marine Corps, Capt. David Gulliford flew a B-24 Liberator bomber below the rim of the Grand Canyon to practice landscape photography. He would use aerial reconnaissance skills against the Japanese in the South Pacific from a base on the Solomon Islands.
David Gulliford smiles in his flight suit. As the pilots left to fly over the Pacific, their equipment list included a parachute bag and harness, heated flying suit, helmet, ear phones, goggles, gloves, sunglasses, sleeping bag, pistol and knife, and a “Mae West” life jacket.
Capt. David Gulliford poses with his flight crew. While other bomber crews painted bombs on their planes’ fuselages to mark successful missions, the pilots of VMD-254 painted cameras on the outside of their B-24 Liberators.
Young Marine pilots stand beside the first B-24 bomber to arrive at Camp Kearny near San Diego. These planes had a notoriously poor safety record and hundreds crashed in the South Pacific. VMD-254 would become the first Marine photo squadron. The squadron’s goal was to quickly make photo mosaic maps before land invasions by U.S. Marines.

World War II bombers once roared through the Grand Canyon

Top center, David Gulliford is photographed with the valuable aerial maps that the photo squadron VMD-254 created. Photographer and fellow Marine David Douglas Duncan took this image. He would become one of the top combat photographers of the 20th century, shooting dramatic images in Korea and the Vietnam War and also befriending and photographing Pablo Picasso.

World War II bombers once roared through the Grand Canyon

Courtesy of Andrew Gulliford

In their wedding photograph, Mildred Jellis stands beside her husband, David Gulliford. They married as soon as he was commissioned as a pilot and an officer. Against her parents’ wishes, she took a long, lonely train ride from Winona, Minnesota, to Corpus Christi, Texas, to be with the man she loved.
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