It’s back again: the picture that Kim Paulson-Schulman, a former Fargo resident, found in an American Cancer Society resale shop in Burbank, Calif. It had been framed in Fargo, so she sent a copy of it to Neighbors in hopes someone could explain who these men are.

In the past, several people have sent their ideas in. Today, here’s another one, which comes from Ian Watts, Chapel Hill, N.C., who saw it on a Facebook entry involving the Merchant Marines in World War II.

He doesn’t know the names of the men, but as an amateur historian who enjoys researching Merchant Marine topics, he analyzed the photo and came up with information on the men based on what they were wearing.

  • The ATS officer (third row, fourth from left) is wearing an older embroidered Army Transport Service (ATS) cap badge, which was in use early in the war and up until August 1945.

  • The Merchant Marine licensed officer (third row, fifth from left) is wearing a United States Maritime Service (USMS) cap badge in use from 1942 to 1943; his anchor-only shoulder boards allude to him being a mate.

  • The Navy ensign (second row, second from left) is wearing a cap badge from post mid-1941.

  • The USMS training cadre (second row, third from left) is wearing a cap badge in use from 1942 to 1943; his shoulder boards are of an older style that were worn until November 1942.

  • The USMS training cadre (second row, fourth from left) is wearing an embroidered USMS district instructor cap badge; cadet officers wore these as well. ”I don’t have a firm timeline when they first appeared, but it probably was 1942,” Ian says.

  • The USMS officer (first row, first from left) is wearing shoulder boards circa March 1943.

  • The USMS officer (first row, third from right) is wearing USMS commissioned officer purser shoulder boards; these first appeared in March 1943. The design was abolished in 1944.

  • The U.S. Maritime Commission cadets (first row, second and fourth from left) are wearing cap badges that came out in 1939, but their shoulder boards are circa 1942.

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More clues

“Note that everyone is wearing working khaki coats,” Ian writes, “and some are wearing white cotton socks. It it were cold, the socks would be black, and the officers in the back would wear something a bit heavier than an overcoat.

“If the cadets were doing a regular training regimen, this photograph would have been taken during their preliminary training, which would be spring, if we go by the shoulder board design hints. I think the picture was taken in April 1943.”

“I have no opinion on the British folks in the photograph.”

Does any of Ian’s information give you an indication of who these men are and where they were from, since the photo was framed in Fargo? If so, let Neighbors know.

By the way, Neighbors asked Ian if he’d ever been to the Dakotas or Minnesota.

“No, never,” he responded, adding, “The farthest inland I’ve ventured is Indiana, Alberta and Oklahoma. But the land of lutefisk? Some day…”

The glorious land of lutefisk awaits you, Ian.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email