A Glendale photographer is trying to fund a project that would chronicle the lives of World War II veterans by using photographs and interviews through a social-media campaign that would hopefully bring the project to as many “heroes” as possible.
For the past year and a half, Zach Coco has captured the stories of 35 World War II vets through his nonprofit, Pictures for Heroes. He is now seeking more than $100,000 through a GoFundMe campaign that would help him travel the country to speak with more veterans and assemble a series of hardcover books.
The inspiration for Pictures for Heroes was the grief Coco felt because he missed an opportunity to chronicle what his grandfather, Anthony Salvatore Coco, experienced while serving in the U.S. Navy during the second world war.
“I was lucky enough to spend 28 years with my grandfather. He was always a big influence on me growing up — morally, ethically. He was always there for me,” Zach Coco said. “I never really looked at him as a World War II veteran. I just looked at him as my grandfather."
Before his death in 2014, Anthony Coco was flown out to visit war memorials in Washington D.C. thanks to the Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit that transports U.S. veterans to the nation's capital free of charge.
Zach Coco flew out from Los Angeles to accompany his grandfather and took photos of the trip. Zach Coco said he started reflecting one day on those images years later and, at that moment, he decided to get involved with the Honor Flight Network.
“All these men and women have incredible stories,” Zach Coco said. “With the lives that they lived, it’s hard to conceive the evolution, the change that they've been through in their lives during the last 100 years. The entire generation will soon be gone."
According to the GoFundMe campaign page, the first book would contain more than 50 veteran portraits and biographies. Because of the solo effort, there is no publish date, but Zach Coco said he hopes the crowdfunding contributions will help bring in collaborators such as historians, editors and designers.
All of the money raised will go directly to the project, Zach Coco said. For every book purchased, he plans to donate a book to a school or library and 20% of the proceeds will go to the Honor Flight Network.
For more information, visit gofundme.com/picturesforheroes.