Air Force Photojournalism: Looking Back Ten Years

This June is ten years since I left my position as an aircrew qualified Department of Defense Photographer at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey. I spent almost 7 years at McGuire AFB (1999-2006) and looking back, documenting the mission there, it helped shape who I am as a photographer. I started at McGuire fresh out of college and was immediately thrown into the fast-paced military environment as a Communications Squadron civilian contractor, photographing training exercises, mid-air refueling flights and even the occasional accident or crime scene. Photojournalism quickly became my passion, documenting events that would end up in the Pentagon archives— during my tenure, approximately 1,000 of my prominent images were accessioned at Joint Combat Camera Center in Washington, D.C.

Air Force Photography, McGuire AFB, New Jersey

(top) Air Force water survival training. (bottom left to right) Army Golden Knights, Civil Air Patrol missions with F-16’s, USAF Photos by Scott Spitzer, cleared by USAF Public Affairs

Air Force Photography, McGuire AFB, New Jersey

(top left) 82nd Airborne, (top right) Fort Dix training, (bottom left) Security Forces guard the F-117 Stealth Fighter, (bottom right) nighttime weapons training. USAF Photos by Scott Spitzer, cleared by USAF Public Affairs

In the midst of my career at McGuire, September 11th struck and I had a front row seat to photographing history. It opened my eyes to a new world and proved to me how powerful photography can be.

Air Force Photography, McGuire AFB, New Jersey

(left and top right) Ground Zero on September 29th, (middle right) President Bush greets Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani, (bottom right) FEMA arrives at McGuire AFB to assist with search and rescue operations in New York City. USAF Photos by Scott Spitzer, cleared by USAF Public Affairs

McGuire is the closest mobility military base to New York City, and as such, was used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to stage medical relief units and deploy search and rescue operations. I spent countless hours documenting McGuire’s mission and its historic involvement, including the September 14th visit by President Bush, Governor Pataki and Mayor Giuliani. Operation Enduring Freedom soon launched, followed by Operation Iraqi Freedom and I went on to photograph troop deployments as well as ongoing chemical and biological anti-terrorism training exercises. It truly was a unique time to be a photographer and I was humbled to play an active part in documenting history.

Air Force Photography, McGuire AFB, New Jersey

(top left and right) Troops deploy from McGuire AFB for Operation Enduring Freedom, (middle) the funeral of Michael Maltz, one of the first funerals for the loss of a soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom, (bottom left) chemical decontamination training, (bottom right) troops return from deployment. USAF Photos by Scott Spitzer, cleared by USAF Public Affairs

More about Scott Spitzer Photography


Scott graduated from the Biomedical Photographic Communications program at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1999, and shortly after, spent almost 7 years as a photojournalist for the Department of Defense. Now, as an event and corporate photographer, Scott and his team have gained notoriety in providing outstanding client service, unique event imagery and high-end video production.

1 comment… add one
  • Dan Bandel Jun 10, 2016, 8:30 am

    Hey Scott. Great tribute to your work at McGuire. I’m glad our paths crossed a decade ago. Hopefully I can get together with ‘the gang’ again some time soon. I appreciate your friendship and look forward to seeing more great imagery from you and your team in the future. All the best to you and your family in the coming years.
    Take care.
    Dan Bandel

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