Born:San Diego, California, 1948 Served in Vietnam U.S. Air Force
From the artist:
I was an Air Force Sergeant in the 22nd Tactical Air Support Squadron, stationed at Bien Hoa Air Base, near Saigon. As a computer system supervisor, I was only needed when things broke down. Since the aircraft parts that my computers kept track of were spread all over the southern portion of the country, I was allowed to travel quite a bit to secure them for critical repair situations. Most of my trips were to small bases where no one kept track of me once the job was done. I could often choose where I stayed for days at a time, and that meant off-base a lot.
My camera was my best passport. I built a following among the children in hamlets I visited by returning to them with copies of the photos I took. The Air Force High Altitude Reconnaissance Unit developed and printed my shots while I worked. Slopped into plastic sleeves threaded by parachute line and slung over my shoulder, I carried hundreds of them back to where they were taken. It was amazingly easy to get anyone in an area to help me find those in the photos. It usually resulted in an invitation to stay the night. It always produced a family friendship. It sometimes advanced a growing legendary reputation.
Several times, it saved my life. During one particular offensive, I was awoken around midnight by the family's elder mother. Bidding me stay quiet, she led me to the corner of the room and pointed to a large water barrel just outside the door. Opening the top, she urged me to get in. For the next thirteen hours, I tried not to cramp. I would later learn that the area was occupied to organize the launching of mortars across the river at an ARVN troop barracks. Almost everyone in the village knew where I was. I will forever be grateful that they found it important to keep my secret.
For thirty years, I have thought about writing about the lives of children in the Vietnam War. My photos tell part of the story, but I have always believed that the story needs to be told by those children. I will continue to work toward the day when I can help them tell their own stories I hope that my photos can stimulate the interest in the development of more communication, and a more open environment to speak and hear, as well as show and see.