Fallen Soldier Photograph

This picture depicts soldiers grieving at the memorial ceremony for Staff Sergeant Alex French, a member of the Georgia National Guard.  It was taken in the gym at Camp Clark, Khowst, Afghanistan, in October 2009.  I do not know how the picture got into general circulation, but it now can be found in a number of places on the web.  It is not hard to understand why.  Military memorial ceremonies are moving events, and this photograph captures in full despair SSG French’s friends.

I was in the gym this day, though I was no longer stationed at Camp Clark when SSG French died.  But I knew him and was anxious to be present for the ceremony.  I do not know the three grieving soldiers, but recognize them by sight.  I do know the four Afghan officers in the background and have spent hours in their company.  The photographer was Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez, a junior enlisted United States Air Force airman who traveled with us to Camp Clark for the ceremony.  She was apprehensive about intruding on the ceremony, but we encouraged her not to be.  She was wonderfully talented, and we are, in our way, thankful that she took the pictures that she did.  RIP SSG French.

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