Herman Schnipper
USS ASTORIA CL-90 Ship's Photographer, May 1944 - April 1946
N Division

USS ASTORIA ship's photographer Herman Schnipper in a portrait from August 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper

Herman Schnipper was an avid photographer before he joined the U.S. Navy.  After boot camp, he was assigned to the ship's complement for the new light cruiser USS ASTORIA mustering in Newport, Rhode Island.  Because of his familiarity and experience with photographic equipment, Schnipper was assigned as ship's photographer.  He became a Mighty Ninety plankowner when he reported aboard ship at her commissioning on 17 May 1944 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Herman Schnipper holding a standard 4x5 press camera, taken aboard USS ASTORIA circa January 1945.
-photo courtesy of Herman Schnipper

Schnipper began his chronicle of USS ASTORIA's WWII experience using his personal 35mm camera.  He received his Navy-issue camera equipment during the ship's shakedown cruise.  For the remainder of 1944 and throughout 1945, he photographed events experienced by the ship and her crew ranging from the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa to the Japanese Home Islands.  During periods of General Quarters, Schnipper had a unique battle station--anywhere on the ship to record events as they happened.

Herman Schnipper in the ship's darkroom in early March 1945, shortly before ASTORIA spent 79 consecutive days at sea in support of Okinawa operations.  Note his dogtags hanging in front of a photo of ASTORIA in high seas during Typhoon Cobra.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper

The images taken by Schnipper and other Navy photographers throughout the fleet were sent back stateside as the war progressed.  In addition to providing news updates from the front lines of the Pacific, many photographs were provided to newspapers for feature stories about local servicemen.  Schnipper himself was in one such feature story, as he was one of seven ASTORIA sailors from the hometown of Bayonne, New Jersey.

From the Bayonne Times, April 1945.  From top left to bottom right: RM2/c Edward Freeman, Cox Edward Maguire, S1/c Frank Lioi, WT3/c Joseph Rembisz, S1/c William Vogel, PhoM3/c Herman Schnipper, and S1/c Louis Rodrique.
-photo courtesy of Herman Schnipper

When the war ended and USS ASTORIA returned home, Schnipper remained aboard for six more months
.  During this time he maintained his photographic responsibilities as Mighty Ninety brought servicemen home from Pearl Harbor and conducted training along the West Coast.  In April 1946, with enough points to go home, Schnipper returned to New Jersey for the first time in two years.

Schnipper leaving the U.S. Navy installation at Lido Beach, NY with his separation paperwork in hand, 23 April 1946.  He is headed for Bayonne, NJ and civilian life--both for the first time in more than two years.
-photo courtesy of Herman Schnipper

Schnipper remained in the U.S. Navy Reserves.  In 1947, he went to sea one final time aboard the battleship USS WISCONSIN BB-64.  He resumed his responsibilities as ship's photographer for the duration of a midshipman's cruise in the Atlantic.

In 1973, shipmates from the Mighty Ninety held their first reunion in Boston.  Herman was in attendance and took photographs of the event.  In the years that followed, he attended every USS ASTORIA CL-90 reunion save one--and he always filled the role of photographer.

The final USS ASTORIA reunion--a combined reunion for sailors from CA-34 and CL-90--took place in Astoria, Oregon in 1996.  An original CL-90 flag hangs between a Schnipper photo of CL-90 and an image of heavy cruiser CA-34.  The flag now hangs in the Columbia River Maritime Museum.
-photo taken by Herman Schnipper, courtesy of CA-34 sailor Don Yeamans

Herman Schnipper's wartime photographs were reproduced in newspapers across the country during the war.  Many of his images are in the collection of the U.S. National Archives as well as maritime museums in Madison, WI and Astoria, OR.  His work has been reproduced in WWII history books and other publications, and appears in online naval photo archives including www.navsource.org and this website.

Schnipper remains active in the U.S. Navy Cruiser Sailors Association.

A portion of Herman Schnipper's contribution to the USS NEW JERSEY's "Jerseyman" publication covering first-hand accounts of Typhoon Cobra in December 1944.
-reprinted with permission from The Jerseyman

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