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Phil Stern is best known for his iconic portraits of such Hollywood legends as Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and John Wayne. But for two years during World War II Stern put his skills as a photographer to work while training and fighting with the U.S. Army’s 1st Ranger Battalion—the elite unit that would earn fame as “Darby’s Rangers.” Nicknamed “Snapdragon” by his fellow Rangers, Stern chronicled some of the most important engagements of the North African and Italian campaigns. Stern died at age 95 in 2014, but award-winning journalist Liesl Bradner, a friend who became the driving force behind his last exhibition, has melded Stern’s photographs with honest and intimate observations from his wartime diary in Snapdragon: The World War II Exploits of Darby’s Ranger and Combat Photographer Phil Stern (Osprey Publishing, 2018), from which these pages are adapted.


This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue (Vol. 31, No. 2) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: Darby’s Shooters

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