When I originally wrote about this photo, I made a lot of assumptions about the men pictured, based on the tropical beach background and the way one of the men reminded me of the fictional character Gomer Pyle, a Marine.
Johnny Alexander of the blog A Prayer Like Gravity left a comment that is a more factual description of the role these men might have played in the US forces. He was able to pick up details in the photo that I had not been able to decipher, and so ignored. Johnny wrote –
I believe that these gents were members of the US Army Air Corps, judging by the uniforms (not to spoil your imagined back-story of course). My dad was in the Army Air Corps in WWII.
This is him, as a cadet:
Interesting thing here is that the image of these two fly-boys is reversed as you can see in the “U.S.” emblem on the collar.
The other collar insignia is the winged propeller of the Air Corps. They were either still cadets or enlisted men, as officers would have their rank insignia on the collar instead of the “U.S.”. They show that winged prop insignia on their hats which is the real clincher I think for them being cadets.
This could possibly put them in Florida, as there were a number of training bases there during the war, including Boca Raton, where my dad was for a time.
Either way, this is probably pre-1947, as that is when the Air Force was formed from the US Army Air Corps.
I could be wrong on a few of the details here, but I’ll let you know if I come across anything else.
Many thanks to Johnny for taking the time to write this informative comment and especially for sharing his father’s photo. Please visit Johnny’s blog here.