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Photographer hopes bikini calendar will help servicemen in Iraq

Joe Cox can’t remember her name, but there was a very important woman in his life when he was serving in World War II.

The Los Banos man served on a Navy submarine, and to help get through the long days, Cox had what a lot of servicemen had in those days: A favorite calendar pinup girl.

“She was an actress, there she was up there in her bathing suit. She was something to look at,” Cox said.

Although World War II is now a distant memory, servicemen serving in Iraq and other countries are going to have their own calendar pinup girls, thanks to David Brantley.

The Merced photographer wanted to do something for the troops, and decided on a calendar.

“We wanted something fun and to also be able to raise money for the troops,” Brantley said.

So Brantley went on the lookout for local women who would be willing to pose in a bathing suit for a calendar. He enlisted the help of Castle Air Museum, and the idea took off.

Brantley has taken photos of some of the women sitting on a jeep, and pictures of the women on a Navy A-4 attack jet, a plane that was used during the Vietnam War.

Joe Pruzzo, executive director of the Castle Air Museum, said that Brantley approached the museum about doing a calendar to benefit the servicemen overseas.

“It has a traditional flavor because during World War II, calendar girls were a big, big morale booster,” Pruzzo said.

Some of the veterans in the Merced area are donating apparel and equipment for the women and Brantley to use for the photos.

One of the pictures will be taken in front of a M*A*S*H helicopter, Pruzzo said.

Women have long been lucky for servicemen, according to Pruzzo. “A picture of a girl on an airplane was considered good luck,” he said.

The women who have volunteered for the calendar are mostly local, Brantley said. He is still looking for women who are willing to pose for the calendar -- he has finished about two months of it so far.

Brantley is also looking for sponsors for the calendar. He wants to make sure that as many calendars as possible get to the troops.

The calendar will be for sale in the Merced area for about $13, but Brantley emphasized that the money is a donation for the troops.

“I’m going to have a web site where people can send the calendars overseas,” he said.

Although Joe Cox doesn’t remember the name of the actress whose pinup he liked, he does remember how it helped him, and other servicemen, get through the war.

“(The pinup) was neat, helped me do my job,” Cox said.

Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at 209 385-2486 or creiter@mercedsun-star.com.

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