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War Stories



COMPILED & EDITED BY ALICE B. MILLER • IMAGES AS SHOWN

EDDIE ADAMS VINCENT LAFORET ROSE REYNOLDS TIMOTHY FLOYD BENJAMIN LOWY FERNANDO SERNA ROLANDO GOMEZ STEVE MCCURRY PHIL STERN KEN HACKMAN PATRICK NUGENT MARIO TAMA LOU JONES JOE RAEDLE CHERIE A. THURLBY NICK UT

U.S. Army Signal Corps photographers test their camera equipment while training at Ft. Meade, Maryland. Photographer unknown.

Photo courtesy U.S. National Archives.

An enduring symbol of victory and American pride, the famous World War II image of an American flag
being raised on Iwo Jima was captured by Joe Rosenthal.

© Joe Rosenthal

The iconic image of American Marines and a Navy Corpsman raising the flag atop Mt. Suribachi is the most famous and most frequently reproduced photograph in the history of photography. For those captured in the photo, those who survived Iwo Jima, and the millions of Americans who have embraced the photo in the past 60 years, it’s an enduring symbol of victory, a touchstone for patriotic pride.

Photographer Joe Rosenthal, now in his 80s and living in California, relives the moments before he shot this photo, creating a visual monument to that historic day. "They had just lifted the pole off the ground. I swung my Graphic around close to my face to estimate the peak of the picture. I wanted a flag going up on Iwo. I could only hope it turned out the way I saw it through the finder."

Recently, the photo experienced somewhat of a renaissance when Tom Franklin (The Record, Bergen New Jersey) captured the image of three firefighters raising the Stars and Stripes above what was once the World Trade Center. Beyond their obvious similarities, these images share a spirit of survival that rivets the viewer.

What can be said of all the brave photographers—civilian and military—who, since WWI (above, left) have risked everything to capture the realities of war so that we may see and feel what they saw and felt?

Ask Steve McCurry, our cover photographer, why he takes seemingly extraordinary risks for the sake of photography. He may minimize the danger aspects, emphasize the planning and precautions, but it’s simply what he has to do; it’s his passion.

SP&D presents this special report as a salute to photojournalists—civilian and military—who have risked everything to witness and document the victims and victors, triumphs and tragedies of war. Sixteen photowarriors share their images and reflections so that we may better understand what drives these men and women—and what tools make it possible—to confront the perils of warfare—so that they may, ultimately, make a difference.

EDDIE ADAMS

Eddie Adams (www.eddieadamsworkshop.com) was a Marine combat photographer during the Korean War; with AP, covered Vietnam War, Jordanian civil war, 1973 Middle East War, Iraq and Iran in the 1980s, Grenada, 1991 Gulf War. Career encompasses photojournalism, corporate, editorial, fashion, entertainment, and advertising photography. Work featured in magazines and newspapers worldwide, including Time, Newsweek, Life, Vogue, Parade, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, London Sunday Times Magazine. Awarded Pulitzer Prize in 1969 for photograph of street execution of a Viet Cong. Founded Barnstorm: The Eddie Adams Photojournalism Workshop.

Pulitzer Prize winner Eddie Adams took this photo, "Boat of No Smiles," on Thanksgiving Day 1977, showing Boat People in the Gulf of Siam escaping from Vietnam. The State Department asked the AP for this photograph and others, which were presented to Congress. Afterward,
President Jimmy Carter said, "Let them come to America." "It was the photographs that did it; we opened the doors to 200,000 South Vietnamese refugees," recalls Adams.

© Eddie Adams

When you're with troops you get really involved with them. You see a dying soldier and you start thinking about his family and you ask youself, "What am I doing here?" I need these wars like a hole in the head. Each time I went I swore I'd never go back."

I know people go for different reasons. You have adventure seekers who just wanna go for the excitement, to get their "high." These are not the really good photographers. I don't know if I do it from my heart, I don't know what I do it for.

This last war, Iraq, I didn't agree with, so I didn't want anything to do with it. And yet I wanted to honor the photographers for the job they did. Without question, they made some of the greatest pictures to come out of any war. They weren't just snapping, they weren't just shooting, they were right on. [Editor's Note: Adams held an awards reception at his studio this past July, honoring several photographers who covered the Iraq war.]

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