Sunday, March 15, 2015

Who Writes About Our Wars: Matt Jones

28th CAB PAO at Camp Adder:
Me, SGT Matt Jones, SFC Dale Shade, SGT Andy Mehler

In September of 2009, I moved from the Echo Company motor pool at Camp Adder, Iraq, to Battalion Headquarters of Task Force Diablo.  I took the job of writing, laying out and shooting the pictures for a monthly newsletter for the remainder of the deployment.  But I knew that a monthly for four of five months would not get any attention.

So I asked to produce a weekly 8-12-page newsletter.  The commander and my supervisor agreed.  I had a job—and a half.  But I got it done.

One big reason I could write that newsletter and shoot the pictures was SGT Matt Jones at 28th Combat Aviation Brigade with an office just 100 meters from mine.  Over the next several months I spent a lot of time with Matt.  I had not shot pictures since the late 1970s.  I got a Nikon digital camera and Matt showed me how to use.  And gave me feedback on the photos I took.  He also edited my stories—quickly and accurately. 

Matt had his own weekly newsletter to produce.  And he worked in a much different environment than I did.  Everyone in my office worked together really well.  Better than most places I have ever worked. 

To say that Matt worked in a hostile environment is like the temperature in Hell, if you have to ask. . .

So in between writing stories, shooting photos and producing a weekly newsletter, had to deal with more shit than a dairy farmer from a brigade command staff that did not understand or care to understand how public affairs worked. 

But he kept going, quietly producing a great newsletter every week and shooting some award-winning photos along the way.  Clearly, some of my best photos were the ones I shot just after Matt showed me something else I could do with shutter speed, ISO, lighting, or angle. 

After we returned from Iraq, I worked with Matt while he was with 28th CAB and I still see him on drill weekends sometimes.  And he still helps me shoot better pictures. 

Most people I know in public affairs, military or civilian, are loud people that laugh, make jokes and are irrepressible gossips.  Matt has the flattest affect of anyone I know in public affairs.  After a few weeks of working with him he said, “Nice!” about a story I wrote.  That was it.  He went back to work.  If I got that from Matt, I knew the Nobel in Literature was a possibility in the future. 

Last summer, in what might be my last summer camp, I got to spend several days writing and editing in the Public Affairs Office at Fort Indiantown Gap.  I wrote about how much I enjoyed that time last summer.  I did not use any names in that post, but I can now say that part of the fun of the week was Matt laughing when I retold some of the same jokes I told in Iraq for a new group of people.  And I am pretty sure Matt said “Nice!” about one of my photos.

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