The Image Present : NPR

The Image Present : NPR

Operation Noble Eagle was launched by the U.S. and Canadian governments in response to the September 11 assaults. It refers to operations geared toward homeland safety and help to federal, state and native businesses. Chief Petty Officer Joshua Ives deployed to Afghanistan in October 2012 and served as a senior medic and photographer with Provincial Reconstruction Workforce Farah.

Joshua Ives


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Joshua Ives


Operation Noble Eagle was launched by the U.S. and Canadian governments in response to the September 11 assaults. It refers to operations geared toward homeland safety and help to federal, state and native businesses. Chief Petty Officer Joshua Ives deployed to Afghanistan in October 2012 and served as a senior medic and photographer with Provincial Reconstruction Workforce Farah.

Joshua Ives

After 24 years of service within the Navy, Chief Petty Officer Joshua Ives retired in 2015. He sifted by means of greater than 15,000 images taken throughout his time in Afghanistan to make Noble Eagle, a mixed-media venture that’s half documentary, half private reflection.

Ives deployed to Afghanistan in October 2012 and served at a Ahead Working Base (FOB) on the outskirts of Farah with 1,100 personnel from the U.S., Italy, Slovenia and Afghanistan. Because the senior medic on the group, Ives managed the bottom assist station and a group of three Navy corpsmen and two Military medics. He additionally served because the group photographer throughout his deployment, documenting life on the bottom and in the local people.

The title of Ives’ images venture references Operation Noble Eagle, the title given to the army operation launched by the U.S. and Canadian governments in response to 9/11. Every army member who deployed to Afghanistan was assigned a Noble Eagle quantity, a novel identifier used for monitoring that indicated the duties, roles and capabilities assigned to them.

For Veteran’s Day, NPR talked to Ives about his army service, the Noble Eagle venture and his reflections on Afghanistan, then and now.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Q: Within the textual content about your Noble Eagle venture, you write: “I needed to go to struggle. I wanted to go to struggle.” Why did you are feeling this fashion?

Merely put, I needed to go to struggle as a result of so a lot of my army brothers and sisters had been and I had not. Once I deployed, I used to be a Chief Petty Officer working at a small Navy medical facility in southern Maine. The U.S. had been at struggle in Afghanistan for greater than a decade, which was nearly half of my profession. I did not wish to be somebody who went his whole profession with out going to struggle. I needed to drag my weight. Additionally, there’s a certain quantity of camaraderie inside army circles after individuals have gone to struggle, and I needed that.

Ives included footage from residence in his Noble Eagle venture, as a result of recollections of residence have been an vital a part of life on the bottom.

Joshua Ives


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Joshua Ives

Q: What initially motivated you to hitch the army?

Once I was 20, I used to be dwelling at my mother’s place within the small, one-stoplight city of Cooperstown, N.Y. the place I would grown up. I would been a mediocre high-school scholar at finest, with no aspirations of going to varsity and no actual sustainable or marketable abilities. I had a job as a snowboard teacher at a small ski resort. I wasn’t making a lot cash, nevertheless it paid simply sufficient to cowl gasoline for my little Ford Escort to and from work.

I would by no means severely thought-about enlisting within the army, however one night time, mid-season, somebody stole my snowboard. With out it, I wanted to determine one other option to make a dwelling. Across the identical time, a high-school buddy returned from Navy boot camp. We hadn’t all the time made one of the best selections collectively, however after 12 weeks of boot camp, he was this squared-away man, standing tall, with a way of pleasure and function and path. I used to be impressed and motivated to do higher. Inside a number of weeks, I enlisted within the Navy and awaited orders to report back to boot camp. As corny because it sounds, having my snowboard stolen was a life-changing occasion.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Q: You have been each a medic and a photographer whereas deployed in Afghanistan. What was it prefer to {photograph} on this setting?

Our main medical mission was to take care of a base assist station and supply important medical help and companies to the 1,100 coalition and Afghan personnel dwelling on the FOB. There was a gradual move of casualties your entire time I used to be there–a mass casualty occasion at the very least weekly.

I used to be assigned to do images as a result of the fight digital camera airman assigned to Provincial Reconstruction Workforce Farah was pulled away from the deployment on the final minute.

It was one of the best of each worlds, so far as I used to be involved. FOB life can get fairly uninteresting since you’re confined inside the thick, dirt-filled, Hesco barrier partitions day after day after day for months on finish. It was nice to interrupt up that monotony by getting off base and documenting the work with Farah’s management and the Afghan individuals. It was additionally an unbelievable alternative to satisfy and discuss with locals and get a glimpse of their every day lives.

And, all the pieces melted away after I had the digital camera as much as my face. I used to be aware of the place we have been, what we have been doing and that possibly somebody needed to kill us. However trying by means of the lens was oddly enjoyable, like being in one other world. It most likely helped a bit realizing I used to be carrying a rifle and pistol and a bunch of ammo, as have been the 10-20 troopers and sailors round me. However even immediately, with out weapons and ammo, all the pieces else takes a again seat after I’m making images. I do not get hungry or thirsty, the chilly is much less chilly, the warmth is extra bearable.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Q: What impressed you to make the Noble Eagle picture venture?

After I retired, I grew to become a 48-year-old, full-time undergraduate scholar surrounded by teenagers and twenty-somethings, with whom I felt I had nearly nothing in widespread, aside from images. I used to be affected by some despair and nervousness and was in a darkish place. I felt like an outsider and would remark to my professors and a few fellow veterans that being deployed to Afghanistan was a lot simpler than being in class.

I appeared again by means of the 15,000 footage I made throughout my deployment for a category venture. I culled them all the way down to round 25-30 photographs and put them in a sequence that spoke to my expertise, together with some which might be most likely not the stereotypical photographs that individuals would possibly count on of struggle. I additionally included a few photographs from residence as a result of recollections of residence have been an vital a part of life on the FOB.

I hadn’t supposed for the venture to be profoundly introspective and even therapeutic, nevertheless it turned out to be that means. Wanting again, it was simply what I wanted as I used to be transitioning and readjusting to civilian life, as a result of it gave me an opportunity to revisit my army expertise with recent eyes.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Q: Your work notes offers us a glimpse of your every day routine and using poetry feels very reflective. Inform us a bit extra about life on the bottom in Farah.

The primary observe within the venture is from a morning management assembly, which captures the essence of every day life on the FOB pretty effectively: can we use army property to evacuate the Chief Justice of Farah; who’s affected by gunshot wound issues; what is the standing of the medical incinerator; the group that is changing us will start to reach in 5 weeks; we’re having pizza tonight.

Pizza nights on Thursdays gave everybody somewhat style of residence and have been a spotlight. However, it was all the time vital to not get too comfy together with your environment. Even within the relative security of the FOB, you all the time needed to be vigilant and take a look at to not let your guard down. For instance, after I went for a run on the FOB, I all the time knew the place the closest ditch or berm or impediment was in case I needed to take cowl.

At instances it could possibly be emotionally draining. Sooner or later, we’re conducting photojournalism coaching for Afghan girls who wish to participate in shaping their nation’s future; the subsequent day we’re visiting an Afghan displaced-persons camp the place it is arduous to think about anybody having a slightly promising future. Then the next day we’re triaging and treating wounded and bloodied Marines. After which the cycle would begin another time.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Q: Are you able to discuss a picture from the venture that has a number of which means for you?

One picture that sticks with me exhibits the aftermath of treating casualties. I took it within the assist station after spending hours attending to a number of wounded Afghans–a few of them did not make it. Once I walked out, people have been heading to the chow corridor for dinner, going to the gymnasium and simply hanging out. I used to be smacked with the fact that nobody knew what we would simply seen and executed. It was simply one other day on the FOB for everybody else.

On the time, it hit me arduous that not everybody is aware of what’s occurring in my world–and I do not know all the pieces that is occurring in theirs. Persons are quietly addressing their very own struggles daily, and never everybody on the surface is aware of about it. It is one thing I take into consideration fairly a bit.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Q: The U.S. not too long ago ended its engagement in Afghanistan. What emotions did you’ve gotten as U.S. troops withdrew?

I am unable to assist however take into consideration the grim future forward for thus many younger girls and boys in Afghanistan. That mentioned, I additionally suppose that we did many good issues and made a constructive impression in lots of particular person Afghan lives–so possibly they’re going to be those who battle again and ultimately make it their very own.

I hope that at some point, the individuals of Afghanistan can know and expertise peace all through their nation.

Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle
Joshua Ives / Noble Eagle

Joshua Ives not too long ago accomplished a grasp’s diploma in multimedia, images and design from the S.I. Newhouse College of Public Communications at Syracuse College. He lives Clinton, N.Y. and works as a contract photographer and a photograph studio assistant. Comply with him on Instagram @joshua_r_ives.