Last week, The Washington Post ran a story entitled “Glimpses of War” written by Greg Jaffe. The piece examined how disconnected Americans are from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I sat in bed with my husband and opened the paper to see pictures I shot almost two years ago for The Washington Times.
I knew this was coming as I had received an email from both Greg Jaffe and one of the soldiers in the story, First Lt. Mark Wise. Wise wrote, “I am a subject in some of your photos”. I now had a name to go with pictures I had shot in 2009 in Afghanistan.
I was aboard a Blackhawk medevac helicopter with US Air Force Pararescuemen or “PJs”, (Para-jumpers) of the 55th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron flying near Kandahar, Afghanistan when we picked up Lt. Wise. He was badly wounded from a mine blast that had killed his radioman Pfc. Devin Michel.
I was deeply impressed not only with the courage displayed by the crew as they flew through enemy fire and hovered the helicopter in a “hot” landing zone as soldiers loaded Lt. Wise aboard, but also with the tenderness and compassion that I witnessed, as Staff Sgt. Joshua Keyes, 30, Alturas, Calif. administered emergency medical care to Lt. Wise.
If anyone had a right to leave the war behind him it was Lt. Wise. Instead, as a student at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, he joined the McDonough Military Association and participated in the second annual “Free Beer and War Stories” night, showing the pictures I shot of his rescue and talking about his experiences fighting in Afghanistan.
I am very happy that he is doing so well and I look forward to meeting him in the near future.