Close to home

April 6th, 2009

Yesterday I photographed the deployment of approximately 150 Marines and Sailors with the USMC 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment as they left for a seven-month deployment to al Asad, Iraq.  As often happens, the page designers don’t always run the photographs I feel best tell the story visually, so I’m posting my two favorite photographs from this assignment.  

I don’t recall ever photographing a deployment–all my previous assignments have been Army Soldiers or Marines returning home.  What I did see and feel was an immediate thickness in the air.  Sadness and grief were all around me.  I saw lovers holding each other tight.  Three and four-year-old children swinging from their father’s arms without a clue of the gravity of the situation.  Genuine moments–precious moments ticking away–between a soldier and the one he loves.  I wanted to be as tasteful and discreet as possible without interrupting these moments, so I found my photograph in a car window.

Cpl. Ron Miller shares a tender moment with his wife Kim prior to deployment at Kaneohe MCAS, Sunday, April 4, 2009.  Approximately 150 Marines and Sailors with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment left for a seven-month deployment to al Asad, Iraq. The Marines and Sailors are the third of three groups that will replace 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment.  (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Bulletin).

All in all, it was day and night from the returning parties I’ve covered a number of times before.  But despite the sadness and morale of the loved ones being left behind, the Marines were in high spirits–some even laughed light-heartedly and joked amongst each other.  But it really hit me hard when the buses were loaded up, and the Marines opened the windows to wave goodbye and blow kisses.  The harsh reality of it is, that some may be waving and blowing kisses to their loved ones for the last time.  It’s sad, and it’s pessimistic, but it is the consequence of war.  This hit me really hard, and tears started to well up in my eyes after I made this last frame.

Marines wave and blow kisses to loved ones at Kaneohe MCAS, Sunday, April 4, 2009.  Approximately 150 Marines and Sailors with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment left for a seven-month deployment to al Asad, Iraq. The Marines and Sailors are the third of three groups that will replace 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment.  (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Bulletin).

Posted in news | 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Close to home”

  1. kent:

    jamm. these are great images!!! i especially like the first one! you are a inspriational storyteller!

  2. jammaquino:

    Thank you Kent. I just try and be as honest as I can with my photographs and my subjects. It’s why I love to do what I do.

  3. Ken:

    Aloha Jamm. Ken Ige here. Sorry we haven’t met yet, but I was a photog there at the good ol’ SB before you got there. I’m enjoying life as a firefighter. I’ve also been enjoying your wonderful photographs and great commentaries. I’ve heard nothing but great things about you from my former co-workers. Stories (and photographs) like this make me miss that job even more. A journalist gets to be at the heart of so many different lives and moments! Nice to see one who appreciates it.


  4. Ken:

    …PS I liked the unused car photo better too!

  5. Andy:

    Jamm – one correction… there’s a difference between soldiers and Marines. :)

    Fantastic photographs as always. I enjoy following your blog!

  6. jammaquino:

    Ken, thanks for your kind words. Yes I’d always wanted to meet you in person but the opportunity hasn’t quite come around. I feel very honored and privileged to be a part of the SB photo crew that included you and the other photogs–I still browse our archives frequently for inspiration! Thanks for reading my blog Ken! I’ll update as often as I can. Perhaps I’ll see you out on assignment one day!

    Andy, forgive me:) I had taken that statement from the Public Affairs officer. I’ll change it:) I appreciate the heads up and thanks for tuning into my blog!

  7. tyg:

    Hello Jamm,

    Been to both deployments and homecomings. I could never seem to photograph deploying Soldiers saying goodbye to their loved ones. Always felt like I was intruding on private moments. And, as you’ve said, the atmosphere is just so incredibly sad and all my creativity seems to vaporize.

    And that’s why I like that first photo you posted up there. Tasteful, great shot.

    BTW … were you on assignment at the Honolulu International Airport about a month ago when Korean pop artist Rain arrived for his civil trial? I don’t know what made me think it was you … never met you before and don’t know what you look like ….. Just asking, I guess. :o)

  8. jammaquino:

    Hi Tyg,
    Thanks for your positive comments! I agree in that I feel intrusive at times like these, but as you can see, there’s a way to capture these precious moments (sorry about the cliché phrase) in the way that they come. What I did was instead of rushing in with a wide-angle, which I considered doing, I waited and just people-watched. This is what kinda got the best of me, emotionally, was the people-watching. Photographing a real moment with real emotion is beyond words.

    And yes, that was me at the Rain arrival at HNL early Sunday morning a few weeks ago. Quite fun being in the media/bailiff/fans scrum from Customs to the limo! :) Thanks for checking out my blog!

  9. Center Of Thought:

    Aloha Jamm – new to your blog, but love the shots…I was in the military and shipped out a lot. Was gone a total of 36-40 months of my 4 year enlistment. The pics brought back those emotions immediately. The homecomings were great, of course, but getting underway, when I was in a serious relationship, was just heartwrenching….it tore me up a bit; does that to most. But with that said, the US Marines are the consumate professionals…the finest on Earth, and I can tell you that they all take what they do very seriously, and once they get underway, they’re all business. And btw, you were correct in your statement describing your previous experience with BOTH Army soldiers AND Marines…if you go back and read the sentence, Andy, you’ll realize that it was correct in it’s context. Anyway, Jamm, I look forward to more shots from back home in the 808…peace…

  10. KateInHawaii:

    Liked ‘um both. 2nd one is an angle made popular with Obama pop-shots. Enjoyed also feelings experienced when being there. I lived vicariously in your shoes :).

    Good stuff. I’ll be back…..

  11. Joscie:

    I have been following your blog for a little while now, and with this post I had to comment. As a military spouse, I have been through more deployment and homecomings that I’d like.
    I LOVE the first shot. So true and real while not invading their personal space. It is the life we live, we military families. Thanks for covering it tastefully.

Leave a Reply