Over the last two weeks I’ve been on orders with my Reserve unit (the 459th Air Refueling Wing) down at Andrews AFB to serve out my Annual Tour (AT). For the 2% of my readers who are military, you know what I’m talking about. For the remaining 98% of you “being on orders” and “Annual Tour” denote the “two weeks a year” you hear in the recruitment commercials.
Before singing up with the Reserves I was incredibly hesitant about going back into the military after my 5 year stint with Active duty. But two months later, I’m pretty darn happy I did, and I honestly have zero complaints.
So far, the 459th ARW has been incredibly accommodating to me; they brought me in as an overage, assigned me to operations, and let me hang my hat at the Public Affairs (PA) shop. Working with PA I am and will continue to capture awesome shots like the one pictured above regularly on my drill weekends.
Hopefully, a PA Officer position will open up within the shop in the next year (or less), which will allow me to attend the Defense Information School and enable me to cross train into another career field. The end goal of this whole exercise in trial and error is to eventually land a spot with the Combat Camera folks out at March AFB just east of Riverside, CA.
In the mean time, I am more than happy to keep shooting with the 459th PA shop and here are some of my favorite images that I’ve taken during my AT. The above shot is SSgt Hoffman firing off the M249 down at Ft APHill. The amazing thing about this picture is that the M249 ejects jackets downwards, so each of the three shells captured first bounced off of the barricade and then up in the air!
This is my favorite shot from the last two weeks, but I like to open up with a landscape shot since I think it “fills the frame” better than a portrait shot can. The gentleman pictured here is CMSgt Van Yahres who recently took over as the 459th’s Command Chief. A simple shot right outside of the wing headquarters taken with one strobe placed low (to get underneath his hat) and a 1/2 CTO gel to match the warm surroundings. He’s a great fella who’s real easy to shoot and you can read more about him and see where this image was published here!
Another shot from the Ft APHill range, this time of TSgt Junious, who I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to talk to but that still doesn’t preclude me from really liking this portrait shot. Before I took their group shot, I set up a strobe paired with a 1/4 CTO gel off to the side of group and told them that I would be happy to oblige any individual shots. Everyone was hesitant at first until TSgt Junious stepped up and quickly there after the rest of the group happily lined up…what were they afraid of???
Shifting gears, the wing was undergoing an inspection during the time I was there. Fortunately, the PA shop was exempt and free to continue about our daily business. One of the inspection criterion was to observe a confined fuel cell evacuation, which in so many words means that the maintainers had to pull a dummy out of the wing. It’s clear that TSgt Swain here is a bit weary of the approaching firefighters assisting during the exercise.
And finally, here’s a shot of the 459th’s Arial Port Squadron in charge of loading and unloading cargo from the KC-135. I never mind taking military group shots since everyone is keen to listen to my every command, and it’s a GREAT thing since I can get everyone in and out in a very timely manner.
I’ve thrown a bunch of images up in a gallery for you all to enjoy and I’ll continue to as the assignments keep coming.
And just one last reminder, all these images are PROPERTY OF THE USAFR, hence the reason why you may not download or purchase any of the pictures from me. Sorry, not my rules and I’m better off playing good solider on this one!
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