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Thousands of Images to Document Military Life

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2002 – For the past several weeks, Army Staff Sgt. Gary Kieffer has had his work cut out for him. The 14-year veteran military photojournalist is working as an assignment editor for a 24-hour, global photo shoot by about 25 military and 100 civilian world-class photographers.

Kieffer, a reservist currently serving on active duty at U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, is working with HarperCollins publishing company's project team on a book titled "A Day in the Life of the United States Armed Forces."

He said the temporary assignment is right up his alley. It calls upon his experience as a soldier and as both a military and a civilian photojournalist.

Kieffer began his photographic career in the Army in 1973. He served on active duty for 10 years and attended the Defense Department's Advanced Photojournalism Program at Syracuse University.

After leaving the military, Kieffer became a staff photographer for U.S. News and World Report, and has contributed to Time, Newsweek and USA Today. Before moving to his current base in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1999, he was vice president of operations of Photo Press International. He also serves as a visiting instructor for the military's Defense Information School annual Military Photographers Workshop.

He said the project shooters are now in the field and soon thousands of images will begin arriving in New York from around the world.

"Nick Kelsh, a Philadelphia-based photographer and writer, will start the shoot at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam at 10 a.m. EDT (Oct. 21)," he said. "Jesse Diamond in Attu, Alaska, the last island in the Aleutian chain, will be the last to shoot." Those locations represent Oct. 22's start and finish.

Twelve Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers are taking part, including Carol Guzy, who has three Pulitzers, and Larry Price, who has two, Kieffer said. Information on the project and the photographers involved is available at the "A Day in the Life of the U.S. Armed Forces" Web site at http://www.daymilitary.com/.

The Defense Department assigned 25 military photographers ranging in rank from senior airman to a lieutenant colonel to the project, he noted. All four services and the Coast Guard are taking part.

"This is an excellent opportunity for some of these military photographers to have their work shown around the world," Kieffer said. "It's amazing how many people do not know the high quality of photographers we do have in the armed forces."

The requirements for making good pictures are the same in and out of the military, he said. "You have to have an artistic eye. You have to be able to capture the image graphically, and you have to be able to capture the 'soul.' You have to have a news sense and know what's going on in the world. As a photographer, you get to record history and you are the eyes of the world."

On the day of the shoot, Navy Petty Officer 2nd class Aaron Ansarov will be on the frigate USS Reuben James photographing maritime intercept operations. Navy Chief Petty Officer Johnny Bivera will be in Manta, Ecuador, covering flight operations and life on base. Army National Guard Capt. Chuck Mussi will be in Afghanistan covering the Colorado Army National Guard with the 19th Special Forces Group.

"We're covering B-2 bombers, Army National Guard in Afghanistan and Grand Central Station in New York," he said. "We're covering a recruiter in Duluth, Minn., and a small town recruiter in Iowa. We have a Navy photographer and a civilian photographer covering a nuclear-missile submarine under way."

The military photojournalism students in the Syracuse program will photograph the ROTC on campus and also the New York Air National Guard at Fort Drum, and Watervliet Arsenal, N.Y.

Kieffer rattled off the span of locations, such as the Caroline Islands in Micronesia; Kyrgyzstan; the Demilitarized Zone in Korea; Iceland; Grafenwoehr, Germany; Antarctica; the Republic of Georgia; and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "You name it, we're doing it," he said.

The military photographers will be using digital cameras. Their images will be sent to the Joint Combat Camera Center at the Pentagon and then transferred to the publisher for editing for the book. Images not included in the book will be put into a Defense Department Web site for future use.

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Reserve Staff Sgt. Gary Kieffer, on permissive temporary duty as an assignment editor for the "A Day in the Life of the U.S. Armed Forces" book project, works at his computer in the HarperCollins publishing offices in New York City. Kieffer lives in Zurich, Switzerland, in civilian life. He was called to active duty for Operation Enduring Freedom and assigned to U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Peter Goggin.  
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