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.
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.
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.