(From Michele Leone, TODAY Producer)
My name is Michele and I'm one of the producer's here at TODAY.
My family and I are from Jamaica, but I'm an American Citizen, and so, I guess that would make me Jamerican. I'm very proud to be doing a job that I love, in a country that I love, like these 3 Air Force servicemen who I recently did a segment on. They just received the Military's Visual Information Award for their creative work in the field during this time of war. WATCH VIDEO
These guys won the top honor of Photographer of the Year, Videographer of the Year, and Graphic Artist of the Year, which is a huge achievement. They beat out other entrants from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard to win this top honor in their craft.
It was very interesting to see the fine work of these military men. It was even more interesting to hear the stories behind the their work. They say a picture says a thousand words, however when you hear about the challenges these men face, especially the ones that are doing their work in the middle of combat, you can really appreciate their art even more. These men go out into the war zone armed with guns and ready to shoot with their cameras.
Technical Sergeant Jeremy T. Lock, a military combat photographer with the Air Force 1st Combat Camera Squadron in Charleston, SC., won the Award for Photographer of the Year. He’s won this prestigious award in 2005 and 2002. He also just recently received the Bronze Star for his act of bravery and merit in Iraq. He has had to switch from his camera, to his weapon in order to assist his fellow serviceman. He says he wants his photos to evoke emotion and feelings, and they certainly do. His work is nothing but amazing and as professional as they come.
Air Force Technical Sergeant Gary Burdett won for Videographer of the Year. His videos were also taken while on assignment in Iraq. He says that the video camera can be more powerful than a rifle at times, depending on what you're shooting. He also says that if they weren't there with their cameras, no one would see what's really going on over there. His videos and the way they are edited really strike an emotional cord.
Technical Sergeant Rick Dunaway won for Graphic Artist of the Year. His work is done at the Air University Television Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Sergeant Dunaway has been highly praised for his 3-D animation of a gas mask. The animation, which shows a gas mask broken down piece by piece, is done to music and is quite fascinating to watch.
His animation has helped train Air Force Servicemen in the US and abroad. Sergeant Dunaway and the military recognize that these days, most servicemen retain things easier if it's put into a video game format. So when you think about it, he is saving lives in his own way.
The one thing that struck me with all these men is their love for their job and for this country. We live in a country where you are free to express yourself in different ways. These men often risk their lives so that we can see and understand what's going on in the lives of our military men and women at war. In a sense, they are fighting this war, with their art.
It's stories like these that make me proud to do the work that I do, but also proud to be a Jamerican.