Today is US Veterans Day. To some of you, that doesn’t mean a thing. To me, it’s a day to remember fallen comrades and friends. It’s a day to celebrate as opposed to memorialize. It’s hard not to do the latter. So I gave myself an exercise. I would like to celebrate by tipping my hat to some well-known and lesser-known combat photographers. I want to thank them for their service and commemorate the work they did.

No list of combat photographers would be complete without mentioning Eddie Adams. He was a Pulitzer-Prize winning photographer and photo journalist.

Adams’ photograph of Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing Nguyễn Văn Lém on February 1, 1968 was one of the most iconic photos of the Viet Nam war. His ability to capture the moment in a meaningful way led him to virtually every award available to photo journalists.

William T. Perkins, Jr. was a combat photographer who won the Medal of Honor. In the course of a strong hostile attack, an enemy grenade landed in the immediate area occupied by Corporal Perkins and three other Marines. Realizing the inherent danger, he shouted the warning, “Incoming Grenade” to his fellow Marines, and in a valiant act of heroism, hurled himself upon the grenade absorbing the impact of the explosion with his own body thereby saving the lives of his comrades at the cost of his own.

Tim Page’s career began in 1962 when he was just 18. He traveled to Asia before the U.S. war officially started and ended up taking some of the most famous pictures of the Vietnam War.

Ever see Apocalypse Now? The somewhat crazed combat photographer that Dennis Hopper portrays at the end of the movie, is based on Tim Page. In some ways he has no rivals.

Yes you’ll note – these photographers are from my era. I am not as familiar as I’d like to be with other eras, but I do want to mention two additional combat photographers who I know personally.

Frederick Van Johnson served as an Air Force combat photographer.  He’s one of the best photographers I’ve ever met.

Frederick began his career as a Combat Photojournalist in the United States Air Force, where he served for 8 years and was decorated many times for his work in the field. Frederick’s unit was among the first in the military to receive, and put into daily action, the very first digital camera technology—Frederick was awarded the Air Force Commendation medal for his key role in facilitating the transition from film-based photography to digital.

Stacy Pearsall was the first woman to win Combat Photographer of the Year. She was the first to win it twice. She is the recipient of a Bronze Star Medal and Commendation with Valor for heroic actions under fire. Her work is some of the most moving I have ever seen or will ever see. She’s a great human being. She’s more than a girl who appeared on Oprah. She’s a loving, gifted, talented photographer who cares about telling stories with her camera and is my personal hero.

Today is a day that will pass like any other day for many of you. I implore you to take 60 seconds out of your busy day to think about those who have served their country; combat camera in particular.

They have done all of us proud and I salute them.

And if you’ll permit me a personal moment – Lanny and Chip – I think about you every single day.

Poem for a Fallen Soldier

Fallen Soldier All Alone
Fallen Soldier Far From Home.
Trickling Down His Face A Tear,
Forgetting How It Feels To Fear
Death And All It’s Fate And Glory.
Now It’s Here, No Need To Worry.

Fallen Soldier All Alone
Fallen Soldier Far From Home
He’s One Of Those They’ll All Forget;
The Life He Lived, The Goals He Set,
The Ones He Loved, The Ones Who Wait
To See His Nearly Forgotten Face.

Fallen Soldier All Alone
Fallen Soldier Far From Home
Now Breathing’s Just A Waste Of Breath
And Living’s Just A Waste Of Death
As He Searches For A New Address;
A Brand New Home Free Of Loneliness.

Fallen Soldier All Alone
Fallen Soldier Far From Home
Lying Motionless On The Ground,
The Battle Raging All Around.
For Now He Is Not All Alone.
This Fallen Soldier Is Welcomed Home.

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  1. […] Hat Tip To US Military Veteran Combat Photographers В« Photofocus Nov 11, 2010 … Frederick began his career as a Combat Photojournalist in the United States Air Force, … […]

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