© Rose Reynolds
Air Force special operations Pararescuemen from the 16th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla., and the 352nd Special Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, England, with commandos from France’s Armee de 1’Air (air force) parachute into Bosnia-Herzegovina from an MC-130 Combat Talon. They were deployed to San Vito Air Station, Italy, as part of Joint Special Operations Task Force 2 in support of NATO troops sent to Bosnia-Herzegovina and aircrews monitoring the no-fly zone for Operation Deny Flight.
© Rose Reynolds
Seeing Combat for military women wasn't happening in '90 or '91.
Any direct combat-related job was off-limits. And as I found out
during Desert Storm, any combat-related operations were off-limits,
as well. Even the B-52 flights I had arranged to fly and document
with the 1701st (P) Bomb Wing were strictly forbidden by certain
individuals. I could fly in tankers, fighters, and cargo planes, as
long as they were classified as operational support and not combat.
Today you can look on the Web and see pictures of women fighter
In early August 1990, orders came down to the 2nd Combat Camera Unit, at Norton AFB, Calif. Teams of photojournalists, videographers, project officers, maintainers, and support personnel supported a joint-service Combat Camera unit deployed to Saudi Arabia. We photographed Air Force, Army, and Marine deployments and build up from Desert Shield to Desert Storm.
Our team covered activities at four bases on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. Occasionally, we covered an event with the Army or flew into Iraq with the Marines. Sgt. Jim Kemplin and I flew with a Kuwaiti C-130 crew, who were going into Kuwait City for the first time since the Iraqi occupation and war. At the end of each rotation, we would fly into Riyadh to debrief, drop off film and tapes, and get assignments.
With digital imagery, there's no film processing, printing, chemicals, lab area, etc. All you need is a floor, a laptop, cell phone and a digital camera-lightweight, fast, mobile. Digital has changed the field for the better, no question. And that's coming from someone who's building a traditional darkroom in her garage. It's the ideal tool for the military photographer.
One of our group's goals was to show the world how some Americans make preserving freedom and liberty a top priority in their lives. We wanted to show what "the military" is like from the inside-people with intense emotions, values, and loving families. We also wanted the photos to show that military business does come with a high price. That we recognize someone has to take the lead against immorality, deprivation, and terror. Lastly, we wanted to show the military in the routine honorable and professional environment in which they operate.
We traveled the same way as the troops we covered-usually by C-130, then by Humvee or helo.
There were some very emotional times during Desert Storm. One conversation I won't forget was with an F-117 pilot during his walkaround in preparation for flight the night the war started. That was a particularly intense time and I had asked him if it was O.K. to photograph him. He agreed, and after quietly preparing the jet, he looked at me and asked gravely if I'd send the photos to his wife if he didn't return.
My favorite picture from the war-taken by Marvin Lynchard-shows two pilots who had returned to base following a mission. After climbing down the ladder of their jets, they hugged solemnly. The had just come back from hell and survived.
Fernando Serna, MSgt. (Ret.) served as Air Force photojournalist and Chief Aircrew Member assigned to Central Command Public Affairs out of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, during 1990 Gulf War. As aircrew member, would "hop" outgoing aircraft to get where he needed to be. Logged more than 750 hours, 150 of them in high-performance fighter aircraft.U.S. Air Force Strike Force flies over burning Kuwaiti oil fields in first Persian Gulf War. F-15E Strike Eagles were used to deliver heavy precision-guided munitions, while F-15C Eagles and F-16C Falcons fighter aircraft provided air-to-air support, and other F-16C Falcon aircraft provided close air support for Army ground units.
Coverage of the first Persian Gulf War was limited, even for
those of us in uniform. Since I wasn't placed under the Combat
Camera umbrella, I was free to cover what I considered the most
important aspects of the air war. As well as depicting the air
power we possessed, I wanted to put a face on the pilots, enlisted
aircrew, crew chiefs, mechanics, and support personnel.
With my Nikon to peer through, there was a certain detachment. However, seeing an Iraqi driver, minus his head, still sitting in the front seat of his burnt and shot up army truck and the burned bodies of Iraqi soldiers lying beside their truck made me realize the true hazards of war. I can't describe the feeling I got when I shot a column of trucks, tanks, and Hummers rolling down the highway that links Baghdad to Basrah at sunset on the day of the ceasefire.
There's irony to how my Kodachrome made it back home. The Colonel in charge of Combat Camera said he was in charge of all photographers and their photography, that I would not be able to get my images back to the U.S. until he had released them. But my allegiance was to AFNEWS and the Air Force, not Combat Camera, and it was my duty not to let the images lay around. So I saluted respectfully, left his office, and proceeded to use his courier service-staffed with my friends-to ferry back a sealed FedEx package that was then delivered to AFNEWS. There, my Kodachrome film was sent to Kodak for processing.
Little could be done to protect film from heat and cameras/lenses from the sand, but the job got done. I worked on a laptop, which was burdensome to carry around. Our phone with unlimited access was a lifesaver. Morale stayed high and we were able to give daily reports to AFNEWS. A couple of D1Xs, a satellite phone, and a fast laptop would've been great.
At Airman magazine, I was awarded the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal. For news coverage of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I earned an Air Force Commendation Medal.