Two weeks before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, Retired Marine Capt. Ben R. Cascio took a photo of the iconic towers as he flew by in his restored 1951 Marine l-17, a four-passenger, single engine propeller-driven low wing bubble canopy aircraft used by the Marine Corps in Korea and the early years of the Vietnam war.
.Cascio's Aug. 26, 2001, image shows the towers in the background and the Marine Wing in the foreground. The photo will be sold to the highest bidder on Feb. 23 during the Wine Room Reception and Fund Raising Auction hosted by Operation Shoebox New Jersey at The Wine Room, 2 John St., in Bound Brook.
Cascio, who was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry during the Vietnam War, will attend the dinner and detail the circumstances of the flight during which he recorded this memorable image.
“I had forgotten that I had even taken the pictures, until months later, when I finnaly had the film developed,” Cascio recalls. “It was then that I discovered this photo with the Marine Wing framed between the towers.
“Apparently as I took the picture, I must have leaned away from the canopy,” he continued, “causing the wing to come up and become framed between the towers, which ironically distinguishes this picture from the thousands of others taken of the WTC.”
The original enlargement was presented to Gen. James Jones, former Commandant of the Marine Corps by Capt. Cascio. It later hung on the wall behind the general’s desk when he was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.
The photo, signed by Cascio, will highlight the auction of more than 70 items at the fundraiser, which includes gift baskets, gift certificates, limited edition prints, sports illustrations, collectibles and antiques. Hosting the auction will be Joseph Bodnar of Bodnar Antiques, reigning bid calling champion of the New Jersey State Society of Auctioneers.
Tickets to the fund raising event, including dinner and a gift bottle of “Bravo & Nobile” blended by OPSHBX NJ volunteers at the Wine Room, are $100 per couple and must be paid in advance. Contact Operation Shoebox New Jersey at (908) 698-0333 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Payment can be made by credit card or PayPal on the website at www.opshoeboxnj.org