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Lt. Harwell, a photo and a new friend...

One of the great joys of the TwelfthRecon Project is all the great people we get to meet and work with. They come from all over the continent and sometimes even across the globe. Often, we collaborate, sharing our research with one another and walk away with new friends.

Lt. Harwell 12th Aero Squadron
Lt. William D. Harwell USAFA Special Collections MS-5

One such individual is Mr. Gann. He contacted us last year regarding his wife’s grandfather, Lt. Harwell. If that name sounds familiar it’s because Lt. Harwell was an Observer with the 12th Aero Squadron. In the space of a single harrowing week, Lt. Harwell was wounded during a mission, shot down and injured on another mission, wounded from an artillery shell and nearly killed in a hospital during a bombing raid. Lt. Harwell survived the war and returned to the U.S. eventually raising a family of his own. Mr. Gann possessed a rolled-up photo of Harwell's that had been passed down through the family for many years. Unfortunately, it was very old and very brittle. Unrolling it without destroying it remained very risky. He was looking for information about how to restore the photo and if we had more details about Lt. Harwell. We exchanged what we knew about Lt. Harwell but couldn't provide much guidance on proper photo restoration. We recommended he visit this link to help him locate a restoration expert.


Recently, he sent us news his restoration project was successful! He also was kind enough to grant us permission to publish it on this website. (See photo below)


Officers and enlisted members of the 12th Aero Squadron
12th Aero Squadron, Coblenz Germany April 1919 from the Lea and Randy Gann Collection

The photo was taken in March 1919 when the 12th was part of the post war occupation force stationed at Coblenz, Germany. It is a rare group photo of the entire squadron including Lt. Harwell and enlisted personnel. It is also of sufficient quality we now have faces for the enlisted men. Many remain unidentified at this time but we will continue working to identify as many members as we can.


Special thank you to Mr. Gann for sharing this wonderful photo.


If you have an old photo you wish to restore, we suggest you begin your search for a restoration expert here: https://www.archives.gov/preservation/conservation/find-conservator


To learn more about photo preservation and restoration we recommend the following source:




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