Investigators claim the military's electronic medical system has caused delays, and possibly in a case here at Fort Lewis, prevented a documented soldier threatening suicide from receiving intervention. Click here for the Boston Online story.
The images in “FOCUS: Through the Lens of a Soldier” are on target about the war in Iraq.
Walter Gaya served as a sniper in northern Iraq with 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), 25th Infantry Division in 2004 thru 2005. The images he took capture the reality of men in combat.
He also returned to Iraq for a couple of months in 2006 to take more images portraying the lives of ordinary Iraqis.
The 108 page self-published book contains 61 images. The majority of them are in black and white; all of them convey an edgy and gritty sense of life and death, pain and joy.
He photographed like a sniper … with a purpose.
Gaya says that something in him drives him to make documentary images. His style is reminiscent of Robert Capa and Richard Avedon, two noted photojournalists.
“There was no way I could go there and not record what was going on around me,” he said recently as he relaxed in the bakery he owns with his wife in downtown Tacoma, WA. “This book is a piece of history depicting the lives of the ordinary ‘joe’ serving in Iraq,” he added.
The images run the gamut from Iraqi children smiling while giving the thumbs up sign and a soldier drawing a tattoo on another soldier to the charred remains of an insurgent and soldiers giving aid to wounded Iraqis.
Always present is the harsh reality and loneliness that soldiers face.
One image shows a soldier sitting on two concrete blocks in an empty room looking through a laser range finder. His weapon, assault pack and helmet are to his right; bullet holes in the wall above and behind him; the floor covered in dirt and debris.
Another image that haunts is a slightly out-of-focus image of the bed on which there are a soldier’s weapon, a heart-shaped candy box and a stuffed dog. Clearly focused is a flag with the words “Don’t Tread On Me” on it.
It is the bed of a soldier who was killed in action.
He was Gaya’s roommate.
On the other side of the world ….
Several images were shot in Olympia, WA, of individuals who protest the war. One particular telling shot shows the back of a man walking around a coffin-shaped box covered with an American flag.
All of the images described here are black and white; however, they convey the color of both those who fight and those who protest the war.
Gaya’s work is right on target.
“FOCUS: Through the Lens of a Soldier” can be purchased at lulu.com/content/725090. With each purchase, Gaya donates one dollar to the Fisher House, an organization that helps military families whose loved ones are receiving medical care.