How RWP Began...
It was a little know fact, that during WWII there was a standing order issued to all servicemen prohibiting them from taking any photographs or keeping a diary while in service so that in the event of capture, such information would not aid the enemy.
Dad (George Chizmar, Sr.) served on the USS Montpelier (CL-57) in the South Pacific. At the end of the war, like so many others, he was discharged from the Navy and left with only his memories of the past several years and hopes of reclaiming his stake of the American Dream. That's him in the picture, the bottom row (second from the right). The one with an uncanny resemblance to Paul Newman.
George Sr. soon married and played his role in jump starting the "Baby Boom" generation with my brother and I. He tried his hand at a number of businesses, but one seemed to show more promise then the others, mail-order household products.
One day he heard the Pentagon was declassifying most of the WWII photographs and transferring them to the National Archives. Dad was anxious to see if he could find some pictures of the "Monty" and his old sea mates.
Word began to spread of his upcoming trip, and soon many old friends were reaching out to him to see if he could find some pictures for them as well.
It didn't take long for him to make the connection and so this was the beginning of Real War Photos. For over 35 years, dad made trips to the National Archives and the Pentagon to research requests for photos from veterans across the country.
However, I must share one story... the US Navy was commissioning a new nuclear submarine the USS Chicago and wanted to display some photos of previous ships who held that name for the commissioning ceremony.
Dad was shocked and surprised to receive an order from the US Navy for these photos and immediately called them back. He said, 'Are you sure you guys want to buy these, because you already own them'. They replied, '...definitely because it would take (them) too long to locate all the ships...like finding a needle in a haystack! " Then added,
"You would be doing us a great service."
So they bought all the ship's pictures and even sent him a special invitation to the commissioning ceremony in Washington DC for the newly minted member to the fleet.
A special note about the USS Montpelier (CL-57), the ship received 13 Battle Stars for World War II and is one of only a few ships with that high number of such stars. She was in the first Allied Offensive of the Pacific War, participated in 26 invasions, 42 operations, 30 campaigns and sailed nearly one quarter of a million miles. She was the first to engage in night battle, and probably the only ship to be struck with 6 torpedos in different battles without one detonation!
On January 22, 1960 the USS Montepelier was sold for scrap to the Bethlehem Steel Co. and shortly after, in the early morning hours, Dad brought my brother and I to a lonely bridge on the south end of Lake Michigan to witness the last mile of the 'Mighty Monty'. Stripped of all guns she was being towed and prepared for her final docking at Bethlehem Steel.
On October 12, 2001, George Chizmar, Sr. passed away with his sons at his side. We now proudly carry on his legacy, that began long before he created RWP and his dream of "Memories Preserved" for veterans of all wars.
George D. Chizmar, Jr.