Later, I was involved in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, deploying the first Electronic Imaging Center (EIC) in support of General Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm.
These operations played pivotal roles in combat documentation and the methods used to send the imagery from the battle back to the decision makers at the Pentagon. Previously, we shot film and the film was placed in bags with their caption sheets and given to a military transport aircraft commander heading back to the United States. Then the pilot would take the film to the command post and following the instructions on the bag, the command post would contact the 1361st Audiovisual Squadron at Andrews AFB. A courier was dispatched, and the film received, processed, and distributed at the Pentagon.
The EIC created a new workflow process where we could receive a variety of inputs, process them on a workstation, give those files to Gen. Schwarzkopf on location, and transmit those same files back to the Pentagon.
Immediately after Desert Storm, I went with other photojournalists and documentation photographers to support Operation Provide Hope in Europe, when Russia reverted to 18 countries. We set up another Electronic Imaging Center in Rhein Main AB, Frankfurt, Germany, this time transmitting imagery via satellite and traditional phone lines back to the JCCC.
The success of these operations set the stage and the Air Force began testing the concept. Four bases were selected: Barksdale AFB in Louisiana, Elmendorf, and Eielson AFB in Alaska, and Hurlburt Field in Florida. Over a three-year period the concept was adopted, with other services following suit.
I enjoyed an adventurous and eye-opening Air Force career, which lasted 23 years. I traveled extensively, photographed heads of state, flew in 24 different aircraft, and participated in a wide variety of "real world events" while being a part of the military's transition from film to an analog solution and eventually a digital solution.
Raedle shot this image, on March 23, 2003, in Nasiriyah, of U.S. Marines taking care of their wounded while being pinned down by intense enemy fire. The Marines suffered a number of deaths and casualties during gun battles in this city.
Credit: © Joe Raedle/Getty Images
One incident kind of cemented a relationship with the Marines.
As we entered Nasiriyah, our unit came under intense Iraqi
resistance. Eighteen Marines eventually lost their lives during the
ensuing seven-hour battle. During the fight, I found myself trying
to stay alive while documenting what was going on around me. The
young Marines at certain times would crawl up to me as RPGs,
mortars, machine gun fire, and an American Wart Hog war plane
strafed us and say, "What the f-are you doing out here? We have to
be here, but you don't.''
They seemed fascinated that I was hanging in there with them as they fought. I saw them go from being bored 18- to 20-year-old kids laughing and joking around in their assault vehicles riding north in the desert from Kuwait, to people who had metaphorically aged 10 to 12 years. Because I had experienced what they did, I was able to capture this subtle change through my lens for the rest of my stay with them.
When the company returned home to North Carolina to be reunited with family, I was welcomed into their lives as they tried to get back to normal. The contrast of the Marines I saw in Iraq with them playing with their babies or visiting a gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery was striking.
Despite being dragged through the mud and rain in Southern Iraq and surviving the sand storm from hell, my dig, ital Canon cameras, computer, and small satellite dish worked fine. Before the invasion, there was a lot of discussion about how to keep the batteries powered up. One of the best decisions I made was bringing along a small Honda generator. The other one is being part of what was an incredible story as shown through the eyes of combat troops on the ground. It was important to show people that were unable to be there everything these Marines went through.
SMSgt. Rose S. Reynolds (Ret.) enlisted in the Air Force in 1977 at Lackland AFB, TX. First USAF female photojournalist, first female in Combat Camera awarded aircrew status. Aerial photographer and senior aircrew member with more than 1,200 hours of flying time. At first Joint Combat Camera Center at the Pentagon to establish procedures and operating instructions for DOD image management and distribution. Published in Aviation Week and Space Technology, Jane's Defense, Air Force Magazine, Air Force Times, Photopress International, Worldpress, and Yahoo! News.
A KC-135 Tanker Aircraft from 22nd Air Refueling Wing, Air Mobility Command, McConnell AFB, Kansas refuels a B-2 Spirit bomber aicraft from the 509th Bomb Wing, Air Combat Command, Whiteman AFB, Missouri