Scope and Content of Collection
Title: John R. Bruning collection
Date (inclusive): 1939-2010
Collection Number: 2000C119
Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Material:
1 manuscript box, 6 oversize boxes
(4.5 linear feet),
37,364 digital files
Video recordings of interviews of American and Japanese World War II pilots and German World War II submarine commanders;
veterans' World War II-era photographs and ephemera; CDs of scanned images relating to World War II; photocopies of National
Archives records relating to World War II; and digital videorecordings and photographs relating to American military operations
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Hoover Institution Archives
Language of Materials note:
In English, Japanese, and German.
Bruning, John R., collector
Collection is open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to
copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives
at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see
or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
[Identification of item] ([Digital file name if appropriate]), John R. Bruning collection, [Box number if appropropriate],
Hoover Institution Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 2000, followed by an increment of digital files in 2011.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the catalog is larger than the number of boxes
listed in this finding aid.
John Bruning, a military writer and photojournalist, was born in 1968 in Palo Alto, California. He earned a BA in history
from the University of Oregon in 1990. He wrote or collaborated on seventeen books published or pending as of 2011, including
The Devil's Sandbox,
House to House,
How to Break a Terrorist,
Shadow of the Sword,
Crimson Sky, and
As part of his research for earlier writing and commercial projects, between 1990 and 2000 Bruning conducted oral interviews
with World War II veterans, including German U-boat commanders and Japanese pilots and airmen. The latter interviews were
conducted in 1997 while he was working in a consultant capacity as the company historian for a software company called Dynamix.
Bruning began work on
The Devil's Sandbox, which details the 2003-2005 deployment of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry, Oregon National Guard to Iraq, in 2005. Six
months after returning home, the battalion was deployed to North Central New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. For
a month, the men conducted patrols and searched for survivors and human remains. Bruning deployed with them as a civilian
embed, living with them on a concrete walkway in front of the music hall at the New Orleans Baptist Seminary.
Upon returning to Oregon and publishing
The Devil's Sandbox, Bruning founded and funded the 973rd Civilians on the Battlefield (973 COB), a nonprofit organization. This group of civilians
serves as the Oregon National Guard's (ONG) opposing force during drill weekends and field exercises. In August 2008, Bruning
spent a month with Alpha Company, 2-162 at Gowen Field, Idaho, during the unit's final field training exercise before their
second Iraq deployment.
In June 2010, Bruning was invited to deploy as an embed to Afghanistan with Bravo Company, 1-168 Aviation, a Boeing CH-47
Chinook heavy lift unit from Pendleton, Oregon. Another part of the unit belonged to the Washington National Guard at Ft.
Lewis. The two detachments were merged and sent to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank in the summer of 2010 to conduct operations
around Logar, Wardak, and Gahzni provinces. Bruning joined them at Fort Hood in July 2010 and was with them until their deployment
in early August. On September 5 he joined Bravo 1-168 at FOB Shank. The next day he began flying missions with the unit, which
was attached to TF Brawler, 4-3 Aviation, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. Mixed in with 1-168 were men
and women from 5-158 Aviation, "Big Windy," out of Germany. They were at the end of their deployment, and Bruning ultimately
left Shank with them in November 2010.
Bruning went to Afghanistan without any affiliation to a news organization, and he was neither under contract nor in the employ
of anyone. He intended to spend his time in Afghanistan writing articles about the military men and women for their local
newspapers. He wrote seven articles and had five published.
Scope and Content of Collection
The first part of the records in this collection (boxes 1-7) consists of World War II-related materials. The bulk of this
part of the collection is video recordings of interviews with American and Japanese World War II pilots and German World War
II submarine commanders conducted between 1990 and 2000. There are a small number of photographs taking during the war that
some of the interviewed veterans gave to Bruning, as well as some miscellaneous ephemera. This part of the collection also
contains twelve CDs. One holds scanned images from the National Archives, another holds scanned images of a war diary, and
the remainder are believed to hold further scanned images, most likely from the National Archives and the collections of veterans
Bruning interviewed. Finally, there are some photocopies of National Archives records about Japanese forces at the start of
the war, American aviation strategy, and the war diary of a Marine squadron. These materials were collected by Bruning in
the course of his work and used for his book projects, as well as articles and other publications.
The video recordings were divided into subseries based on the nationality of the interviewees. In the case of the American
and Japanese interviews, the tapes were then arranged alphabetically by the subject's last name. The German tapes, for the
most part, were ordered according to the donor's labels, which were numbered sequentially (except in the case of those which
weren't numbered; those were grouped by interviewee). The photographs, which had no discernible original order, were divided
into subseries based on the subject/content of the photo. Some miscellaneous ephemera, which may all be from one J.E. Gabrio,
was separated from the photographs and placed in its own series. The photocopies of National Archives records were left as
Most of the still and moving images of national guard training and deployment in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (2005),
in Iraq (2004-2005), and in Afghanistan (2010), supplemented by a few items dated as early as 2001, were created by Bruning,
although some photographs were given to him. The Iraq and New Orleans material follows the deployment of the 2nd Battalion,
162nd Infantry, Oregon National Guard. It fought in Baghdad, 2nd Najaf, the Sunni Triangle, and Fallujah from March 2004 to
March 2005. Bruning wrote a book about this deployment,
The Devil's Sandbox. After Hurricane Katrina the battalion was deployed to North Central New Orleans; selected photographs from this period are
available. The Afghanistan images follow the deployment of Bravo Company, 1-168 Aviation, a Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy lift
unit from Pendleton, Oregon. Another part of the unit came from the Washington National Guard at Ft. Lewis. The two detachments
were merged and sent to FOB Shank in the summer of 2010 to conduct operations around Logar, Wardak, and Gahzni provinces.
Bruning's photos follow the unit's deployment in the summer and fall. Additional photographs and videorecordings depict Oregon
National Guard training activities circa 2008.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Afghan War, 2001- .
Iraq War, 2003-2011.
World War, 1939-1945--Aerial operations.
World War, 1939-1945--Naval operations--Submarine.