Air Force Combat Camera – Focus on the Fight
Yesterday’s Bloggers’ Roundtable was with Staff Sgt. Shawn Weismiler, photojournalist; Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary, print journalist; Senior Airman Brian Economides, videographer; and Capt. Phil Ventura, Combat Camera officer in charge all based out of the Combined Air Operations Center. Team 2 travels across Central Command’s Area of Responsibility to document the Air Force’s role in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
These airmen are charged with documenting a variety of topics and stories throughout the Central Command AOR. Some assignments are planned as part of the operation, while others evolve from tips.
Camera talk: The still photography is all digital. The video is mini-DV.
Photos are usually shot in as high a definition as possible. Sometimes, the mission may dictate a lower resolution, to permit transmission of the imagery from areas where large files might be impossible to upload.
There are “night vision” lenses for both the still and video. SSgt Weismiler has just put his camera into a night vision device on occasion.
Capt Ventura described the “no-kidding” efforts of the team on a recent mission.
A good example there is the combat offload this team recently covered, where this was a very remote base in Afghanistan there. But this was imagery that had very much a timeliness to it.
So we wanted to get those images and that story out, as close to the event as possible. Whereas some of our stuff can be evergreen typically, this was no-kidding hard news.
So in this case, after the mission, Sergeant Weismiller, no kidding, just went to his civilian account and e-mailed me his couple selects from that mission, in a resolution that was able to get transmitted over, you know, Gmail or whatever it was.
At the same time, Airman Economides sent his tape back with the C-17 pilot. So I had that in hand. And then Sergeant Zachary, in a heroic effort, wrote out her story longhand, until she could get to a morale computer at the next FOB. And she, no kidding, sat there and typed out an e-mail to me.
So that all arrived in my inbox. And I was able to work with our media outreach folks to get that up there within about 12 to 15 hours of the event happening.
SSgt Zachary describes her normal load for a mission:
For me as a journalist, I make sure I have a rucksack with very limited clothing and uniforms in it and a secondary rucksack with my computer, videotape and lots of notepads.
As far as what kind of equipment we take for protection, you need your helmet. You need your body armor. You need to be able to carry a combat load, which is seven M4 magazines and two M9s. And then you also carry your sidearm.
So at any given point, I weigh 110 pounds; I’m carrying 150 pounds on me. So we travel with a lot of gear.
John Donovan posted the story of an Army combat cameraman who was awarded the Silver Star in Afghanistan. Captain Ventura talked about that type of situation:
And that’s one of those decisions that — what a terrible decision to have to make, you know, that moment when you drop your camera, videocamera — or, you know, notepad, in our journalist’s case — and pick up your arms. But I think, like Sergeant Zachary said earlier, we all are airmen first, and we are there to enhance the mission, whether that means taking imagery, taking a story or fighting back.
You know self-aid buddy care is another huge part of that. All our team members can provide self-aid buddy care along with the best of them and take care of anybody on that team. And that’s something we’re very proud of and we train to very seriously.
Here are a few links to samples of the work being done by these Airmen. And, as I pointed out before the interview began, SSgt. Stacia Zachary is doing something right in the photo that none of the men are. Can you figure out what?
SSgt. Stacia Zachary
- Airmen rescue aids in ‘Golden Hour’ recovery of coalition forces
- Flight Engineers: Critical Component to CSAR Mission
- Agri-business development team plants seeds of hope for Afghan people
SSgt. Shawn Weismiller
SrA Brian Economides
- DVIDS search for videographer
- Air Force Space Command Public Affairs recently announced its 2008 Media Contest winners – Best Television Spot Production – SrA. Brian Economides, 30th SW/PA, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.;
Transcript of the Bloggers’ Roundtable – PDF file
Table of contents for Bloggers' Roundtable
- We Don’t Commute to Work Anymore
- Terror Investors Might Want to Look Elsewhere
- I Hear It’s Safe
- In Our Area the Taliban Are Paying More a Month
- Iraqi Police Progress
- Sept. 11 Conspirators Going to Trial
- Continued Courage and Committment
- The Year of Opportunity – 2008
- Competent, Capable, Effective Leadership
- Afghan Army Acts: Decisive, Overwhelming
- Iraqi Military Medical Services
- Dallas Reporting: Aid Mission to Georgia
- Military Integration Into NIMS
- Status Report From the Afghan South
- Status Report From the Afghan East
- Fourth Fleet Is About Partnerships
- Iraqi Police Primer
- Sons of Iraq Status Update
- Army Apologizes
- We Are Here!
- Yar! There Be Pirates!
- Cobra Gold 2009
- Our Best: Sergeant First Class Helen Gillespie
- Africa Partnership Station Comes to E Africa
- Building the Rule of Law in Afghanistan
- Sons of Iraq and the Iraqi Budget
- Air Force Combat Camera – Focus on the Fight
- Afghan Update for July 22, 2009
- The Army Goal: 1.5 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy
- Withdrawing from Iraq – some perspective
- Iraqi security update April 22 2010
- 2012 Federal Budget for Defense
- Pacific Command and the Pacific
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