This is a fantastic large original framed photograph of approximately 150 sailors (I doubt any of them have even seen their 21st B-Day yet) holding what appear to be Springfield 1903 rifles in mint condition with brand new leather slings...if you look closely you will even find a couple of Winchester or Remington Model 1917's. They are flanked by two older Petty Officers??? No, you're not seeing double, they look like twins! The photograph appears to be a graduation from the naval base in San Diego taken April 17, 1942.
The time this photograph was being taken, Doolittles Raiders were probably gassing up their B-25 Bombers and getting ready to leave the flight deck of the USS Hornet to bomb Tokyo...which took place on April 18th much further to the West. Chances are these young fellows signed up right after Pearl Harbor and are just finishing up their training to go to War. In terms on US Navy History...this was probably one of the most critical times in Naval History...in a six Month window, the US Navy endured Pearl Harbor, Battle of Coral Sea, Midway, and Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo...and that was just the beginning of the War. By the end of the year, it would have lost 3 carriers, the Lexington (Coral Sea), Yorktown (Midway), and even the Hornet on Oct. 26, 1942. I think the Enterprise was the only original carrier left standing at close of 1942....it was a very tough year for the Navy and the nation. One can only wonder what happened to these fellows after this photo was taken. I see lots of these graduation photos in my travels but its very rare that you will ever find one with the men posing with rifles.