Back in 2010 WestLife News posted an article about 35PRS member Chester “Chet” Krejci, who served with the squadron overseas in China. The article is no longer available on the internet at the original source, but fortunately it is captured from another website and carried on this blog below.

Chester Donald Krejci was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 18, 1921, was raised in Cleveland and was drafted into the Army in 1943. He initially served as a Military Policeman, as a medical problem precluded him from flying, though he learned how to fly before he joined the service. Due to his interest in photography, he later transferred to the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, but an attack of appendicitis kept him stateside when the squadron deployed overseas. But when he recovered he was re-assigned to the 35th Photo recon Squadron and went with the squadron overseas to serve.

Chester Kreji strikes a pensive pose in front of one of the 35PRS Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning aircraft flown by "E" Flight at Chihkiang.

Chester Kreji strikes a pensive pose in front of one of the 35PRS Lockheed F-5E Photo Lightning aircraft flown by “E” Flight at Chihkiang Airfield. (Courtesy Chester Krejci family)

After arriving in China, Chester Krejci was assigned to “E” Flight at Chihkiang, China. Flight “E” was established at Chihkiang in October, 1944; the planes arrived on 29 October and operations began 30 October. Capt. Black was the first OIC of the flight, which remained at Chihkiang for the duration of hostilities. Today the airfield is still in use, and is known as Zhijiang airport: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhijiang_Airport

Gurkka soldiers from Burma and/or Chinese 6th Army troops unload from a C-46 transport ofr defense of Chikiang Airfield during a Japanese offensive in China in 1945. (Courtesy Chester Krejci Family)

Gurkha soldiers from Burma and/or Chinese 6th Army troops unload from a C-46 transport for defense of Chihkiang Airfield during a Japanese offensive in China in 1945. (Courtesy Chester Krejci Family)

Chester Krejci’s duties included loading and unloading cameras on the flight’s Lockheed F-5 Photo Lightning reconnaissance aircraft, repairing cameras, and sending film in sealed containers for developing. Occasionally he flew night missions to work the camera – this was likely in the North American B-25J Mitchell bomber the squadron had late in the war. He had his own personal “press” camera with which he took many pictures during his time in China.
After the war ended, Mr. Krejci stayed on in China with five other men, assigned the duty of checking equipment that was being consigned to the Chinese military forces led by Chiang Kai-shek.  He spent five months traveling to different airfields around China to help manage this transfer. Finally, on December 15, 1945 he embarked aboard a troop transport and sailed back to the states, arriving in Seattle on December 31, 1945.

A Japanese delegation arrives in a Ki-57 Topsy (transport version of the Ki-21 Sally bomber) at Chihkiang carrying a party of military officials to discuss terms of surrender of Japanese forces in China at the end of World War II. (Courtesy of Chester Krejci family)

A Japanese military delegation arrives in a Mitsubishi Ki-57 Topsy (transport version of the Ki-21 Sally bomber) at Chihkiang Airfield to discuss terms of surrender of Japanese forces in China at the end of World War II. (Courtesy Chester Krejci family)

Although Mr. Krejci passed away on January 12, 2011, members of his family kindly shared some of his photos and biographical information and thus this information to make this post is possible. The newspaper article conveys some more interesting information about him, and we salute him and remember him for his service to our country in the during World War II.

//NEWSPAPER ARTICLE FOLLOWS//

Project shows life work of WWII recon photographer

Filed by 2 Press Papers Staff November 13th, 2010 in News.

West Shore
Kevin Kelley

Like many veterans of World War II, Chester Krejci did not speak much about what he saw and heard once he got home, at least not with those who didn’t also experience or witness combat.
Krejci, who turns 89 this month, served in the Army Air Corp with the 35th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. He served at nine different air fields in China during the war, flying in reconnaissance aircraft that followed B-25 bombers on missions targeting Japanese interests in the China Burma India theater.

Chester Krejci holding a Fairchild K-19 aerial camera (Courtesy West Life, via Aileen Garra-Lim)

Chester Krejci holding a Fairchild K-20 hand-held aerial camera during WWII.  This type of camera was used by a member of a crew to shoot anything of interest from the cockpit or crew positions.  (Courtesy West Life, via Aileen Garra-Lim)

He was awarded the Bronze Star three times for his service.

Krejci, who has cancer, has been under hospice care for three months at his residence at Wellington Place in North Olmsted. A big part of hospice care is preparing the patient spiritually and emotionally for death. In the case of veterans, that may mean bringing to mind events that have long since been suppressed.

Britney Pacheco, Krejci’s hospice nursing assistant, got him talking about his experiences during the war. Those conversations gave her an idea. Why not put together an exhibit at Wellington Place of the wartime images made by Krejci, who took many nonclassified photos during his service and kept the negatives? Hospice spiritual care coordinator Kellie Sullivan also was instrumental in organizing the show.

Chester Krejci shares pictures from his scrapbook (Courtesy West Life, via Aileen Garra-Lim)

Chester Krejci shares wartime pictures from his scrapbook (Courtesy West Life, via Aileen Garra-Lim)

The Oct. 15 exhibit included many family portraits Krejci took after the war. A two-hour reception for members of Krejci’s family and other Wellington Place residents was part of the day.

To Paige Boyer, communications and media relations specialist at the Hospice of the Western Reserve, the exhibit of Krejci’s photographs is one example of what called an “ethical living will.”

The goal of such a statement, Boyer said, is to allow the dying person to pass on ideas and beliefs that were important during his or her lifetime.

Telling stories of what one experienced during a lifetime can create closure for both the hospice patient and his or her family, she said.

“That’s particularly of value to veterans because they often don’t want to talk about their experiences in the war,” Boyer said.

Two of Krejci’s grandchildren – Laura and Beth, both in their 20s – said before the exhibition of his photos he only spoke of what he saw in World War II in bits and pieces.

“I had enough of it,” Krejci explained of his attitude once he returned to Cleveland in January 1946. “I’m luck I made it back.”

In addition to conducting recon work on harrowing bombing runs, Krejci also saw several pilots die when their badly damaged planes crashed when they tried to return to the base.
In 2006, Krejci donated his collection of World War II combat photos to the Air Force Museum in Dayton.

Krejci said he hopes the people who see his photographs learn a little about airplanes and lands they never had seen before.

“It’s a good history of the war, really,” he said of his collection.

Krejci, who grew up on the west side of Cleveland and graduated from West Tech High School, said he learned the art of photography mainly be teaching himself.

“I always had my own darkroom,” he said. He owned three professional-grade cameras at one time.

After the war, Krejci and his late wife, Wilma, who died in 1986, raised a son and a daughter, first on the west side of Cleveland, and later in Lakewood and Avon Lake. He worked at the Ford Brook Park for three decades.

Photography continued to be a hobby for Krejci for many years after the war, with the focus switching to family portraits.

“I took thousands of pictures in my lifetime,” Krejci said.

A few years ago, some family members bought Krejci a digital camera. But he didn’t like it. Perhaps it made photography too easy.

“I’d sooner work the camera manually,” he said.

(Click to learn more about how people can articulate their legacy by means of an ethical living will.)

Contact Kevin Kelley at kevink@westlifenews.com

 

Source:
http://2presspapers.northcoastnow.com/project-shows-life-work-of-wwii-recon-photographer/

Article with picture was posted at location below but is no longer available:
http://www.westlifenews.com/2010/11-03/legacyww2.html

References:

35 PRS monthly histories

Fairchild K-20, Wikipedia post at:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_K-20

Hill, Fred, 123d Observation Squadron and 17th Photo Recon Squadron veteran, email “Camera ID,” 27 March 2014

Info about Chihkiang Airfield, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhijiang_Airport

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