VA Hospitals Capture Photos Of WWII Veterans Then And Now

- LITTLE ROCK, AR- VA Hospitals in Little Rock and North Little Rock are paying tribute to "The Greatest Generation." A medical photographer is taking photos of WWII Veterans holding a photo of themselves from the 1940s.

William McGinley, 91, says he's honored to have his picture next to other men and women who've proudly served their country.

"It brings back a lot of thoughts," he says.

It also shows people only a part of their story.

"Shooting right straight to the side and I could hear them going (makes bullet sounds) just right over my head," says McGinley.

McGinley was a tail gunner on an American B-24 Bomber. He vividly recalls German fighters shooting down his plane over Belgium in 1944.

"The Germans reported me killed when the bomber blew up," he says.

But McGinley survived and spent the next seven and a half months living with the Belgian Underground. A death certificate and telegrams that were sent to his mother are now in his possession. But, you wouldn't have known from the picture of this Purple Heart recipient or know the stories behind the other men and women on these walls.

"It's a great honor to be with the other guys that's in the service," says McGinley.

"We thought it would be a great idea to showcase people we see walking around our hallways every day," says Jeff Bowen, VA Medical Photographer.

Jeff Bowen is the man behind the lens. His favorite part about the project, "Just seeing the old pictures that they have and then how much life is in their face and then trying to put that together in something that would reflect that."

Mr. McGinley hasn't seen the photo yet, and plans to next week when he goes in for his regular appointment.

"I'm going to look at it. They'll probably be a bunch up there and I'll have to hunt it down. I'll probably be the ugliest one on that wall," he laughs.

The photos are so popular, there are already a long line of veterans waiting for their photo op.

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