Max Desfor with Enola Gay sixty-eight years later

Max Desfor sees the Enola Gay sixty-eight years after he made his historic photograph of the Enola Gay landing after the Hiroshima mission. (Photograph by Dennis Brack)
Max Desfor sees the Enola Gay sixty-eight years after he made his historic photograph of the Enola Gay landing after the Hiroshima mission. (Photograph by Dennis Brack)
At 100 years former Associated Press photographer Max Desfor is still sharp as a tack and in good health. He can tell you about his Pulitzer Prize winning photos from the Korean War, but the stories he remembered this day were about August 6th and 7th, 1945. Max was in Guam when he got orders to get to Saipan ASAP and then over to a little island called Tinian to photograph a B 29 called the Enola Gay. Max got a ride and made it before the Enola Gay returned from its mission. There was no help from the PIO’s so he had to stand outside of the airbase. The Enola Gay landed and Max nailed it. A word about Max’s camera: a 4×5 Speed Graphic. Max and taken off the view finder on the top of the camera. The range finder was removed–Max didn’t need that. Max used the scale on the Graphic’s bed to set the focus distance and the wire sports finder to compose. That was it.

Max’s Enola Gay landing photograph became an iconic WWII photograph. It is prominently displayed next to the Enola Gay at the Smithsonian Institution Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport. Eric Long and Dane Penland, photographers at the Smithsonian Institution, invited Max for a visit. Max loved it and made pictures with his digital Nikon. Everyone enjoyed Max and his bride Shirley, (they are newly-weds, Shirley was 91 at the time of the wedding).