Striking Portraits of “Unknown Soldiers”

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The Unknown Soldier is a collection of images by photographer David Jay, who, in 2012, set out to illustrate the consequences of decisions to go to war through people wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I needed to address an often unseen consequence of our actions,” he tells TIME.

He started out looking for subjects by spending a lot of time meeting people who served at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. But he met most of them through word of mouth, traveling to their homes to photograph their families. “People don’t want to see our men and women looking like this,” says Jay. But he felt it was important to tell their stories.

Above is a glimpse of the collection, portraits of people in the Army who were involved in explosions that left them with burns all over their bodies, including stand-up comedian Bobby Henline, the sole survivor of a roadside bombing in Iraq and subject of the TIME documentary “Healing Bobby.”

Overall, Jay was touched by the openness of his subjects, who at times appeared “stoic” in front of the camera. “It takes a very courageous person to reveal themselves in that way,” he says. “It is not how a man or woman wants to be seen. However courageous they were on the battlefield, I give them a lot more for just standing in front of me, sitting in front of me, and allowing me to take their picture, when they’re very exposed in every possible way.”

The Unknown Soldier exhibition is expected to be on display in spring 2015.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris. Shilo was severely burned on February 19th, 2007 by a road side bomb estimated at 700 lbs. He lost three men out of a crew of 5. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast.

Retired Army Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris. Shilo was severely burned on February 19th, 2007 by a road side bomb estimated at 700 lbs. He lost three men out of a crew of 5. Only Shilo and his driver survived the blast.

Army Specialist Robert Bernier. Robert was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body.

Army Specialist Robert Bernier. Robert was hit by incoming artillery, sustaining burns over 60% of his body.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Henline. Bobby's transport was incinerated by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was the lone survivor.

Army Staff Sergeant Robert Henline. Bobby’s transport was incinerated by a roadside bomb in Iraq. He was the lone survivor.

Army First Lieutenant Nicholas John Vogt. On November 12, 2011, he was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan. “The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend. We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn't 'in the cards'. Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left. “

Army First Lieutenant Nicholas John Vogt. On November 12, 2011, he was severely injured by an IED while on a foot-patrol in Panjwaii, Afghanistan. “The only thing that I want to pass on is this: Losing limbs is like losing a good friend. We wish we could still be with them, but it wasn’t ‘in the cards’. Then we get up, remember the good times, and thank God for whatever we have left. “

Army Specialist Jerral Hancock. Jerral was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. It is believed that Jerral was trapped under the wreckage for half an hour.

Army Specialist Jerral Hancock. Jerral was driving a tank in Iraq. A roadside bomb pierced the armor, breaching the interior. It is believed that Jerral was trapped under the wreckage for half an hour.

Army Sgt. Joel Tavera, now 26, was injured in Iraq at age 20. Severely burned, blinded, a leg lost and over 90 surgeries later ... Joel has this to say about his journey thus far: “Looks are deceiving . . . what looks like a half empty glass is actually three-quarters full”.

Army Sgt. Joel Tavera, now 26, was injured in Iraq at age 20. Severely burned, blinded, a leg lost and over 90 surgeries later … Joel has this to say about his journey thus far: “Looks are deceiving . . . what looks like a half empty glass is actually three-quarters full”.

Army Sgt. Joel Tavera, now 26, was injured in Iraq at age 20. Severely burned, blinded, a leg lost and over 90 surgeries later ... Joel has this to say about his journey thus far: “Looks are deceiving . . . what looks like a half empty glass is actually three-quarters full”.

Army Sgt. Joel Tavera, now 26, was injured in Iraq at age 20. Severely burned, blinded, a leg lost and over 90 surgeries later … Joel has this to say about his journey thus far: “Looks are deceiving . . . what looks like a half empty glass is actually three-quarters full”.

Army SPC Marissa Strock. She was injured when her vehicle was struck by an IED buried in the road. She was 20 years old.

Army SPC Marissa Strock. She was injured when her vehicle was struck by an IED buried in the road. She was 20 years old.

Army SPC Jerral Hancock lives in Lancaster CA. After his wife left him and his 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, his mother and stepfather became his caretakers. Jerral lived in a mobile home until just recently when high school students in his community raised funds and local support and built Jerral and his children a handicapped accessible home.

Army SPC Jerral Hancock lives in Lancaster CA. After his wife left him and his 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, his mother and stepfather became his caretakers. Jerral lived in a mobile home until just recently when high school students in his community raised funds and local support and built Jerral and his children a handicapped accessible home.

 

Source: TIME

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