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I know what you're thinking - that's me in the pit. No such luck. Here's the story on how I ended up taking this photo.

I always kept my Nikon F with the 28mm lens, a flash, and a couple rolls of film with me during after-hours. It wasn't possible for me to get into the photo-lab once it was closed for the day. Many times I had some kind of photo shoot at night. A basketball or football game. Some function at the Officer's Club.

Then there was the two occusions, that I remember, when this practice saved my ass. This is the story of the first one. The second story follows this one.

At 4 or 5 in the morning I'm awaken by a reporter and told I had to get up. We were going on a story. Did I have my camera gear?

"Yes. Were're we going?"

"Some NCO School training site."

"What for?"

"What for what?"

"What are we going to fuckin' photograph you idiot?"

"Oh, it's some kind of orientation course on how the VC do their thing."

"You mean the VC in Vietnam? "

"Yes."

"O.K. Just go away and let me get ready. Wait outside."

"O.K."

Once I'm ready and get in the car with my gear I asked the stupid question I always asked and always got the same answer. Always.

"Why didn't I get told about this yesterday?"

"I don't know."

Always the same. And I kept asking it.

The photo shoot was somewhere in the swamps of eastern North Carolina. Vietnam has nothing on this place. There are mosquitoes flying around this swamp so big you need a baseball bat to kill them.

For some reason I still have some of the negatives from this shoot. This is very unusual. They should have been catalogued and stored away at the ISO photo-lab. That's why the above photo and the one on this page is shown here at all.

The lablel on the negative envelope saids the place was called Oak Grove.

We get there O.K.

I ask the reporter what kind of photos he was interested in?

"Don't know."

"Well did the office say anything about what they were hoping to get?"

"No."

"Well what are you going to write about?"

"Anything you photograph."

"How many photos you want?"

"As many as you can give me."

"So all you know is to get here and have me shoot something."

"Yes."

Doesn't ever change.

I have two rolls of film. Actually after looking at the contact sheets of this shoot I only had a roll and a half. Half a roll left in the camera and an additional 36 exposure roll.

So we spent the day with the new NCOs photographing throughout the day. Knowing I have only 48 frames and not knowing what would be important. The trick was to not run out of film before the day was over but also don't skip the photo of the shoot, which ever one that was. The classic kundundrun of all photographers.

The story goes into the Windsock as a two-page spread of photos. Everyone is happy. One thing the Windsock crew did well was photo layouts. I have no logical reason for this. They just did. No matter who was doing it. Thanks Windsock crew.

A couple of weeks after the story appeared I was on my way to the NCO School office to do a 'Letter of Appreciation' shoot. I never minded these shoots because it was always an enlisted fellow getting the letter. I always made sure the Marine getting the letter got a copy of the photo. Against the rules but did it anyway.

I walk into the NCO School office, spot the gunny in charge, say hello and he points to me and said, "That's the guy!"

Also in the office is the same reporter that was on the NCO School story. I said to him, "What's going on?"

But the gunny cuts in and saids, "You're the one we wanted to give the 'Letter of Appreciation' to. And your office sent this fellow over. "

I said, "Yea, he was the reporter on the job."

The gunny, now embrassed by the whole situation, replies, "Well we still want to give you a Letter. You want it?"

"I appreciate the guesture but no thanks. Lets just get the picture of you and the reporter."

I took the picture of the reporter getting the 'Letter of Apreciatation' for the double page photo shoot I did on the NCO School.

What happened was the NCO School called over to the ISO office and told them they wanted to give a 'Letter of Appreciatation' to the fellow that did the NCO School story. The ISO office gave them the reporter's name.

Then to add-insult-to-injury the ISO office didn't tell me the details of the shoot but to just go over to the NCO School office.

You gotta love these people. [Next]

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