Peter van Agtmael

The War At Home: The War at Home

Specialist Scott Jones outside Fort Drum, a few weeks after returning from a 16-month deployment to Afghanistan.  Jones spent his deployment in the Pech Valley, a violent region of eastern Afghanistan.  He lived with thirty other soldiers in a complex of rudimentary sandbag bunkers along the Pech Valley road, a notorious transit point for the Taliban.  The conditions at the patrol base were Spartan. There were no showers, hot food, phones, internet, or beds. Gas generators provided intermittent electricity.  The base was attacked over 80 times by insurgents, and the platoon took numerous casualties.  Many of the soldiers, including Jones, passed the time by smoking hash purchased from the local Afghan Army garrison.   When this picture was taken, Jones was only days away from being discharged from the army.  He was happy to have been able to play a part in fighting ‘the War on Terror,’ although he was glad that he wasn’t sent to Iraq, a war with which he disagreed.  He had considered re-enlisting, but his girlfriend ended their long-term relationship during his tour of duty, and he didn’t want to risk ruining his personal life through multiple deployments.
Sergeant Jason Crawford mourns privately after the memorial service for Andrew Small.  Andrew was killed the previous year at the age of nineteen in an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, which also killed two other Americans, and wounded three others.  Jason was their squad leader, and the loss was deeply personal.  Crawford's deployment to Afghanistan in 2006-2007 was his third since September 11.
A freshly dug grave is covered by a late winter snow in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery.  Section 60 is reserved for the dead from Iraq and Afghanistan, and over 400 fallen soldiers from those conflicts are buried there.  It usually takes a few weeks after burial for the carved marble gravestone to be completed and placed at the grave.  Until then, a small waterproof plastic marker containing the name and rank of the deceased is plunged into the dirt.