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Author seeks help with photo mystery

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By Tris DeRoma

Non-fiction author John Bisney is on the trail of a real-life mystery.
During the writing of his latest book, “The Space Age Presidency of John Kennedy,” there are photos he wants to use for his book that show Los Alamos National Laboratory workers he can’t identify.
He is hoping that people in Los Alamos who see the photos will be able to identify them. The picture series involves a trip Kennedy made to LANL in 1962.
“Although I have identified the politicians and top-level officials, the photos show a number of staff people and project scientists who I would love to identify,” he said. “Unfortunately, I have so far only run up against dead ends. I have tried the Los Alamos Historical Society, the lab’s alumni group, a NMSU (New Mexico State University) history professor, Facebook, etc.”
Bisney, a former Capitol Hill correspondent for the Cable News Network (CNN), has been working with space photo archivist J.L. Pickering to produce books of photographs of America’s space program. Previous collaborations include “Spaceshots and Snapshots of Projects Mercury and Gemini: A Rare Photographic History and “Moonshots and Snapshots of Project Apollo : A Rare Photographic History.”  All of their books are available on Amazon.com.
“The goals with all of our books is to show pictures that have rarely or never been seen before,” Bisney said.
Their Kennedy book is especially unique, because as far as Bisney knows, there has never been a book that entirely focuses on Kennedy and his role in America’s space program. The book will be out in spring of 2018 and published by the University of New Mexico Press.
When the book hits the market, Bisney and Pickering hope people get the impression of how committed Kennedy was to the space program.
“What’s interesting to me is if you look through this book, you can see what he saw,” Bisney said. “You can follow his interest in the space program through his eyes. You see his experiences. Meeting the astronauts, having them in the White House, talking to them, traveling to Houston, traveling to the cape, (Canaveral), going to Vandenberg to see a missile launch, going to Los Alamos,” he said.
There are 10 chapters in the book.
Bisney and Pickering  were inspired to do their series of books after watching the Mercury and Gemini programs come to life when they were kids.
“They were really national heroes,” he said of the astronauts in the program and in the “Space Race” with was then known as the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). “...We were sucked into that… this wonderful adventure taking place right before our eyes.”
The two of course didn’t know each other then, but the seeds were already sewn when it came to their future careers. Pickering started collecting pictures of the space program by writing to the magazines and government agencies that housed them in their collections. Over the past 40 years, Pickering’s list has grown to include NASA, aerospace contractors, news photographers and publications.
To view all photos, visit lamonitor.com. If you think you can identify the people in the photos, write to lanews@lamonitor.com.

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