WWII pinup calendar raises money for veterans

Tuesday, May 15, 2018
WWII pinup calendar raises money for veterans
Female veterans dressed up like WWII-era pinups for a photo shoot on the Queen Mary in Long Beach to raise money for veterans causes.

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Female veterans trade in their camouflage and military boots to dress up in 1940s style glam - for a good cause.

The models are all part of a World War II style pinup photo shoot aboard the historic Queen Mary in Long Beach.

The idea is the brainchild of Gina Elise, who started "Pin Ups For Vets," a nonprofit organization that supports the troops and veterans by producing pinup calendars.

Money raised goes to support their initiatives.

"We do everything from donating rehab equipment to VA hospitals nationwide, to a 50-state hospital tour where we visit veterans dressed up as World War II pinups and we deliver our calendars as gifts of appreciation to them," Elise explained.

Most of the models are veterans themselves.

Tracy "Birdie" Gibbons says there's a lot to learn by serving.

"Being in the military shows you how to enter new environments and adapt to new cultures and you meet some awesome people," Gibbons said.

Supporting others, being inclusive, and giving back seem to be the running theme - which Birdie Gibbons learned in the Coast Guard and as the daughter of a Navy veteran.

"Being a navy kid helped us to learn how to be a new kid at school and realize that everybody has been the new kid," Gibbons said. "So there were no bullies. He wanted everyone to feel included and to know that they weren't alone."

Patti Gomez-Michalkow is excited to be part of any effort that recognizes and supports veterans.

"As Mrs. New York, I'll be competing for Mrs. America in August, and I'm already involved with Homes for our Troops, which is an organization that builds homes for our most injured post-9/11 veterans. So being a part of another veteran organization that does so much for our vets, well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity," Gomez-Michalkow said.

The majestic setting for the photo shoot made everyone feel a little bit more connected to the project.

In fact, the Queen Mary has an important history with the military, and happens to be one of the largest and oldest surviving veterans of World War II.

The Queen Mary's very own Commodore Everette Hoard was on hand during the photo shoot.

"The Queen Mary is a veteran herself shouldering some 810,000 military personnel over the course of the second world war. It was key in the buildup for the invasion of Normandy," Hoard explained.

The 2019 calendar will be ready by July and can be purchased from the Pin Ups for Vets website.

Gibbons sums it up well. "This is an amazing opportunity to show people that the military sticks with you and you can keep giving and keep feeling the love and the support."