Imaginations soar to the sky

Local photographers donate military images to Freedom Museum
Mar. 23, 2013 @ 06:42 AM

Two  photographers have honored U.S. veterans by donating some of their favorite military-themed images to the Freedom Museum in Manassas, Va.

Cheryl Dobbins of High Point and Eric Hege of Thomasville this month donated three prints apiece to the military museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. They presented the prints to museum officials on March 9.
“I just have a huge respect for the military and for our veterans and prisoners of war,” Dobbins said. “I felt like the museum has a really good mission of educating the public and honoring our heroes, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
Dobbins contacted museum officials about donating some images after she met and photographed a couple of veterans — who were also museum volunteers — at a Veterans Day parade she went to in Manassas in November.
“To capture the soul and history of these two veterans through intimate portraits was a true privilege,” she said. “Donating their portraits to the museum is my way of paying homage to those two men and all our veterans.”
Dobbins also contacted Hege, a former classmate of hers at East Davidson High School, because she knew he specialized in aviation photography and thought he might want to donate some of his images of military aircraft. Hege quickly agreed to the proposal.
“I thought it would be a good way to show appreciation to the museum and to the veterans that served our country,” Hege said.
Specifically, Dobbins donated portraits of World War II prisoners of war Emanuele “Manny” Fontana — who died about a month ago — and Merle Hancock, as well as a photograph of the cockpit of a B-25J Mitchell bomber that was on exhibit at the Freedom Museum.
Dobbins also donated a print of Fontana to his widow, Jean, who was on hand for the presentations.
Meanwhile, Hege donated prints of three military aircraft — a Douglas A-4 Skyhawk attack aircraft, an AE-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, and a 1941 North American AT-6A Texan, a World War II warbird.
According to Dobbins, the six donated images will become part of a permanent exhibit at the Freedom Museum. | 888-3579


The Freedom Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., is located in Manassas, Va.
The museum is open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, call the museum at (703) 393-0660 or visit