Juan Montano - Mickey Strand - Veterans Series

Mickey Strand - Veterans Series

The Veterans Portrait Series

Mickey is a retired Navy Photographers Mate, Chief Petty Officer, and was the Leading Chief of the Navy's elite Combat Camera Group Pacific. Mickey's current focus is the Veterans Portrait Series, which documents veterans' stories of service. He is focused on our Worlds' Greatest Generation. The veterans of World War II. 

Mickey interviews each Veteran, collecting and writing their service stories, archiving these notable historic figures and their stories for generations to come. Mickey has collected and displayed images and stories from over 100 warriors that at one point, signed the dotted line when our country needed their sacrifice of service most.  Mickey continues to collect Veterans from all services for the Veterans Portrait Series. In 2019 this body of work was displayed at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre Museum from Nov 11, 2019 — to March 1, 2020.

Mickey and the project were in the national spotlight, featured on the Sunday Today Show with Harry Smith Today Show Link to YouTube.  See the Google 360 Virtual walk through from the Palm Beach Museum Exhibit. Enjoy, and thank you for your help with this project. In 2022 Mickey has photographed over 25 more WW2 Veterans and will be hosting a print show in San Diego in November with an open house on Veterans Day.

Featured Veteran

Edward Targaczewski
US Army
PFC
World War 2

Edward Targaczewski, PFC, born in January 1925, served as an Infantry soldier with the 3rd Battalion, 317th Infantry regiment, 80th Blue Ridge Infantry Division during WW2. 

 Ed, who grew up in Allegheny, PA, enlisted into the army after completing two years of High School on 13 March 1943 at Ft Meade, Maryland. Ed trained with his unit, moved to Scotland, and was deployed into Europe on the 5th of Aug 1944, landing on Utah Beach as the Work Horse of Pattons 3rd Army.

 Ed volunteered as a driver for an M4(105) VVSS Sherman 105mm Howitzer tank because nobody else wanted to drive the tank. The M4(105) was armed with a 105 mm howitzer designed to fire powerful high explosive HE artillery rounds His unit was deployed in a six-tank platoon and provided fire support and smoke to assist the lead tanks. It was not designed to take on enemy tanks. It was an artillery gun fitted inside a tank turret. The M4 had a five-man crew: commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver/machine gunner.
See Full story in the WW2 Veterans Page 
 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Where can I donate?

I have created a way to accept donations to grow the project, use the WWII Veterans Portrait Series
  Go Fund Me.

Where are you located?

I live in the San Diego area but have traveled to many locations to interview and photograph Veterans.


How Long is an Appointment?

Appointments usually last 1 hour. But please free up time for Mickey to set up lights and cameras, hold the interview, and take some photographs for the project.

Do you accept reservations?

Yes is the simple answer to the question.  Each appointment is set up as an individual session. Group sessions have been set up when I visited a senior living facility or many of the California Veterans Homes.

US Navy BM1 World War 2- Korea - Vietnam Juan Montano was born on June 27, 1926, in Detroit, MI, and ran away from the big city to live on a farm in the Upper Peninsula at 15. Juan joined the Navy at 17, enlisting on July 30, 1943, when his father received his draft notice. Juan volunteered to take his place, keeping his dad at the Ford Motor Company building B-24 Liberators. Juan attended Bootcamp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center and, upon completion, reported with half of his company to the USS Bell Grove LSD-2, an Ashland-class dock landing ship in Pleasanton, Ca. After a shake-down training, the USS Bell Grove sailed to Pearl Harbor Hi. loaded the 7th Infantry and headed for Makin Island. Juan operated a landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVP), or Higgins boat for the first time. Juans was in charge of (LCVP2-2) as a new BM3, loading troops and equipment on the beach for the first nine amphibious beach landings he participated in during World War 2. Operating for 18 months, one beach after another. Sometimes, he spends weeks with his three-man crew onboard, sleeping right at their stations. When not landing on the beach, his LCPV served to make smoke, screening ships and landing craft from attacks by Japanese aircraft and ships. Occasionally, When onboard the Bell Grove and not in his LCVP, his General Quarter's GQ station was a 30 Cal Anti Aircraft gun. Juan recounted many attacks and Kamikaze runs on his ship during Pacific Operations. The Bell Grove and her crew participated in Nine different amphibious operations in 18 months, including Makin Island, Battle of Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian (3), Leyte Gulf (4), Luzon, Lingayen Gulf, San Pedro Bay, and Iwo Jima many included multiple resupply trips for the ship and then the beach. Iwo Jima was Juan’s 9th amphibious landing. He was assigned to land troops on Green Beach, the first beach below Mt. Suribachi. “The bullets were coming down like rain,” Juan remembered. His sister boat got stuck on Green Beach, and Juan refused to leave them, knowing how to pull him off to safety. When the two boats were free, they returned to no ships in the bay. The Japanese counterattack forced the slow amphibious ships back to the safety of the sea, leaving both LCVPs and their crews to spend two nights on their boats fending off attacks each night. Juan served for 28 months on the Bell Grove, being one of only 282 ships company to serve during all combat operations during World War 2. The Bell Grove returned to San Diego on Dec 31, 1945, but could not pull in for his first liberty until Jan 1, 1946, because of fog. Juan stayed in the service and served on many commands, including the USS Merrick AKA-97, USS Springfield CL-66, and USS Dixie AD-22. During the Korean War, he served on USS Naifeh DE-352. Other commands included the USS Uhlman DD-687, the USS Southerland DDR-743, USS Ingersoll DD-652, and the USS Boyd DD 544. Petty Officer Montano was a sailor, and sailors go to sea and serve on ships. He retired from active service on 31 May 1963.
Veteran,NIK,WW2
Juan Montano - Mickey Strand - Veterans Series
US Navy BM1 World War 2- Korea - Vietnam Juan Montano was born on June 27, 1926, in Detroit, MI, and ran away from the big city to live on a farm in the Upper Peninsula at 15. Juan joined the Navy at 17, enlisting on July 30, 1943, when his father received his draft notice. Juan volunteered to take his place, keeping his dad at the Ford Motor Company building B-24 Liberators. Juan attended Bootcamp at Great Lakes Naval Training Center and, upon completion, reported with half of his company to the USS Bell Grove LSD-2, an Ashland-class dock landing ship in Pleasanton, Ca. After a shake-down training, the USS Bell Grove sailed to Pearl Harbor Hi. loaded the 7th Infantry and headed for Makin Island. Juan operated a landing craft, vehicle, personnel (LCVP), or Higgins boat for the first time. Juans was in charge of (LCVP2-2) as a new BM3, loading troops and equipment on the beach for the first nine amphibious beach landings he participated in during World War 2. Operating for 18 months, one beach after another. Sometimes, he spends weeks with his three-man crew onboard, sleeping right at their stations. When not landing on the beach, his LCPV served to make smoke, screening ships and landing craft from attacks by Japanese aircraft and ships. Occasionally, When onboard the Bell Grove and not in his LCVP, his General Quarter's GQ station was a 30 Cal Anti Aircraft gun. Juan recounted many attacks and Kamikaze runs on his ship during Pacific Operations. The Bell Grove and her crew participated in Nine different amphibious operations in 18 months, including Makin Island, Battle of Kwajalein, Saipan, Tinian (3), Leyte Gulf (4), Luzon, Lingayen Gulf, San Pedro Bay, and Iwo Jima many included multiple resupply trips for the ship and then the beach. Iwo Jima was Juan’s 9th amphibious landing. He was assigned to land troops on Green Beach, the first beach below Mt. Suribachi. “The bullets were coming down like rain,” Juan remembered. His sister boat got stuck on Green Beach, and Juan refused to leave them, knowing how to pull him off to safety. When the two boats were free, they returned to no ships in the bay. The Japanese counterattack forced the slow amphibious ships back to the safety of the sea, leaving both LCVPs and their crews to spend two nights on their boats fending off attacks each night. Juan served for 28 months on the Bell Grove, being one of only 282 ships company to serve during all combat operations during World War 2. The Bell Grove returned to San Diego on Dec 31, 1945, but could not pull in for his first liberty until Jan 1, 1946, because of fog. Juan stayed in the service and served on many commands, including the USS Merrick AKA-97, USS Springfield CL-66, and USS Dixie AD-22. During the Korean War, he served on USS Naifeh DE-352. Other commands included the USS Uhlman DD-687, the USS Southerland DDR-743, USS Ingersoll DD-652, and the USS Boyd DD 544. Petty Officer Montano was a sailor, and sailors go to sea and serve on ships. He retired from active service on 31 May 1963.