A virtual city floating upon the waters, an aircraft carrier is home, office, and recreation center to nearly five and a half thousand service men and women. On the hangar and flight decks, Navy personnel work day and night to maintain the 85-plus aircraft onboard, using giant elevators to move jets and helicopters between the decks. Below deck, we document the giant kitchens, laundry facilities, classrooms, and recreation facilities keeping thousands of troops fed, entertained, trained, and ready.
San Diego, CA
In the San Diego Bay, we meet the Navy trainers who teach dolphins to help make international waters safer through demining exercises: the dolphins carry explosives on their noses, affix them to mines, and swim safely away. We also meet an Army veterinarian who cares for the 75 dolphins at the Navy facility. The vet's duties include performing sonograms on pregnant females, taking temperatures, examining eyes and blowholes, and giving vaccinations.
Andersen Air Force Base
Located 2500 miles west of the international dateline, the U.S. territory of Guam is "where America's day begins." At sunrise, we see personnel from all four branches of the U.S. military starting their day with PT session. Also a stopping place for B-2 bombers flying missions over the Middle East, we see ground crews repairing the giant planes and loading munitions. Guam is also the first stop on American soil for those killed in action, and repatriation ceremonies, with flag-draped coffin, are held on the base. Meanwhile we also accompany parents in uniform as they shop with their children, play ball or help with their homework thousands of miles from the American Mainland.
Loran Coast Guard Station
Attu, Aleutian Islands, AK
Our photographer documents the life of the 20 Coast Guard personnel stationed at one of the last Loran (Long-Range Navigation) Stations--this one in Alaska, at the western most edge of the Aleutian Islands. It is lonely duty on this barren, windswept and very cold island that is a five hour flight by C-130 from the mainland. The only visitors from the outside world are occasional birders. Otherwise the small crew performs their daily duty sitting attentively at the radar screens and monitors. After duty hours they relax by playing Nintendo, eating, hitting the sauna or sun bed, playing poker, and greeting the arrival of the supply plane. Sometimes they even race each other on roller blades down the wide and empty runway.
In the tiny gulf kingdom of Qatar a new city has risen in the flat and dusty desert. As our forces build up in that country they are housed in a huge tent city. Large, air-conditioned, state-of-the-art tents line streets and avenues carefully laid out by combat engineers. Inside, the soldiers, airmen and marines that form the backbone of our forces await their orders and write letters or emails to children, parents or spouses. Outside, under the scorching heat, their days are spent maintaining vehicles, weapons and aircraft, and of course, training.
Life on Base
When the U.S. deployed troops to Bosnia and Kosovo, many of those soldiers came from Smith Barracks at Baumholder, Germany-home of the largest concentration of U.S. combat soldiers outside of the United States, as well as their spouses and children. At this huge international base our photographer captures the everyday life of families, including parents that work on the high-tech machines of the base's 1st Armored Division. When their day ends they pick their kids up from school and daycare, go bowling or to the movies, or just relax with neighbors. It may be far from the heartland, but the values of America and her families are preserved in the barbecues, little league baseball games and religious services of this close community.
U.S. Army Soldier Show
Fort Jackson, GA
Any member of the Army can audition to be a member of The U.S. Army Soldier Show--an MTV-style traveling musical review. If chosen, he or she serves the next six month as a performer in the show. The troupe sets up stage, lighting and sound on 18-wheel truck that it takes to bases all over the world by highway and by cargo plane. Our photographer chronicles a day in the life of show members, setting-up, rehearsing, performing and breaking all down again at the end of the night.
West Point Academy
Hudson River, NY
The West Point Military Academy is perched on the banks of the Hudson River. It is both school and home to 4,000 future Army officers. We chronicle the day in the life of a typical cadet, waking up, eating breakfast in the dining hall, attending classes, taking part in physical training, studying in the library, and hanging out with friends.
Balboa Naval Hospital
San Diego, CA
At the Balboa Naval Hospital we follow a Navy doctor on her rounds as she talks with patients, executes routine test procedures, and performs surgery at this high-tech facility. We also visit the maternity ward, where more than 10 babies are born to military families each day -- some with dads in uniform in attendance, and others with fathers far away on assignment. Other units at the hospital include emergency room, intensive care, a laser eye surgery unit, and a mental health ward.
Des Moines, Iowa
For many young men and women, the journey to service and sacrifice in America's Armed Forces begins in small towns across America. Rise early with an Army recruiter in this midwestern town as she prepares to talk to students about life in the service. We shadow her as she visits a high school and later the home of an applicant and his family. She answers questions in the kitchen of their rural home as parents and siblings quietly listen.