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Passing of Photographer Joe O'Donnell

14 Aug 2007

Joseph Roger O’Donnell suffered a series of strokes and died in his home last Thursday, 9 Aug 2007, in his home in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. He was 85. His legacy is best told with his work, which chronicles the recent history of the United States. Some of his photographs are famous to most Americans, such as the one of Harry Truman shaking hands with Douglas MacArthur at Wake Island during the Korean War, or perhaps the "kitchen debate" between Richard Nixon and Nikita Khruschev, and of course, the familiar image of young John F. Kennedy, Jr. saluting his father's coffin. In terms of WW2 history, he was among the first photographs to document the destruction of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and other Japanese cities after the war, entering the country on 28 Aug 1945. "[N]o bird, no wind blowing, nothing to make you think there had once been a real city here", he recalled his surroundings as he walked toward Nagasaki amidst near total destruction.

Anne Brown, owner of The Arts Company of Nashville, said O'Donnell "did what a really good photojournalist does, which is size up a situation and make it more concise, to tell a story with a sense of style."

O'Donnell is survived by his wife Kimiko Sakai and four children.

The most striking 74 of O'Donnell's photographs taken in Japan in 1945 can be found in the book Japan 1945: A U.S. Marine's Photographs From Ground Zero, published by Vanderbilt University Press in the United States. If you are interested in purchasing the book, please consider using the link found to the left of this paragraph. Purchased via the link provided will help WW2DB.com pay for its expenses.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
9 Sep 2007 12:45:22 PM

It has now been proven that many of the photographs claimed to have been taken by Joe O'Donnell were not his, especially John-John's salute to his father. This guy was a stealer and a forger of copyrights of others who he could not compete.
2. Anonymous says:
18 Sep 2007 03:15:46 PM

There is no certainty that the photographs from Japan are his. There are numerous contradictions in his account -- and enormous improbabilities. Given the fraudulent claims made over many years, anything associated with O'Donnell is suspect. Some of his claims for the Japanese material have already been disproven -- and others could emerge despite six decades of deceit.
3. Anonymous says:
23 Oct 2007 05:31:18 PM

Thank for making this valuable information available to the public.+

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