military photojournalism

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Antonio Santini was willing to do anything — as long he got to Puerto Rico. He’d be a perfect asset for the U.S. Army’s Hurricane Maria mission: He spoke Spanish and he knew the terrain. The sergeant first class had been all over the world with the military — Germany, Peru, Qatar, Afghanistan — but this mission, to an island devastated by a Category 4 hurricane with 155 mph winds, was “deeply personal.”

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Fifteen hundred miles away, in the mountains of central Puerto Rico, Maria Rivera had survived the hurricane in her two-story house on the hill. Three generations of the family buckled down together as the whole house shook — the roof gave way, windows broke and water gushed in.

Amid the storm’s chaos, Rivera was calm. A deeply religious woman, she prayed for her family. For their house. For Puerto Rico. She and her husband stayed up through the night, bailing out water from the house. In the days that followed, while Santini was packing in North Carolina, making last-minute trips to the commissary on base at Fort Bragg, Rivera watched as their supplies dwindled and the water and power stayed off.

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Six days after the storm, Santini caught a Boeing C-17 with three dozen soldiers, headed for San Juan. When they arrived, they stayed on cots in the city’s convention center — the staging place for most government entities like FEMA and the military. From there, Santini and his team loaded up their rented Jeep — the back filled with water, food and extra gas. With the stereo blasting heavy metal, they set off from San Juan for the mountains.

Santini got behind the wheel because he “knows this island like the back of my hand.” He and his crew traveled in a caravan with another Jeep carrying another Army team — a precaution Santini insisted on: “We’re up in the mountains. If my vehicle falls off this cliff on this mountain, no one’s ever gonna know where the heck we are,” he explained, “two vehicles, so we can call in if something goes bad.”

A part of the U.S. Army Special Forces, their main mission in Puerto Rico was to bridge communication gaps in isolated areas — to figure out what information still needed to be communicated and to whom. They flew down with a machine that could make 70,000 handbills in 24 hours, and as they traveled through the central mountain region they took notes and pictures to inform what gets printed in those pamphlets.

A Sergeant’s Mission To Return Home To Puerto Rico

Photos: Carol Guzy for NPR

SWEDEN. Gotland. February 2017. Swedish soldiers on training. Sweden has recently reintroduced mandatory military service, abolished in 2010. “Politicians at the time maybe thought that the future would be more sunny than the reality is today,” Sweden’s defence minister said of the era after the Cold War.

Photograph: Gordon Welters for The New York Times

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Shadows of history in Malta’s war tunnels

In a vast network of tunnels carved into the rocks under Valletta, the capital of Malta, faded maps of the Mediterranean hint at the place’s role in directing key battles in World War II.

Malta is now restoring the 28,000 square meters (300,000 square feet) of tunnels, planning to open a huge section to the public.

The compound, hidden under the picturesque port city perched on cliffs above the sea, was built by the British and served as the staging ground for major naval operations. The British military withdrew from the island in 1979 and the compound was abandoned for almost 40 years.

German and Italian forces bombarded Malta intensively between 1940 and 1942 as part of their attempt to gain control of the Mediterranean, but did not manage to force the British out. During the Cold War, the tunnels were involved in tracking Soviet submarines.

Over the years, water and humidity have let rust and mold spread. Some rooms have been vandalized, but traces of the military apparatus that once occupied the complex still remain. Military cot beds, tangled cables and dust-covered rotary phones litter the rooms.

The Malta Heritage Trust, a nongovernmental preservation group, began the multi-million-dollar restoration of the site in 2009. (Reuters)

See more photos of Malta’s war tunnels and our other slideshows on Yahoo News.

WAR IN UKRAINE - The current conflict in Ukraine took me to the country several times. I saw a nation divided by political and nationalistic ideology, while at the same time, I saw a nation genuinely united in prayer. This shot, rendered in black and white (I usually post and publish in color) screamed to be taken. It is of a military tank operator taking a cigarette break. His nonchalant, almost arrogant attitude, spoke volumes.

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JAPAN CONFORMS:  From new hires at Japan Airlines Co. to welcoming new ministry workers at Department of Defense, it’s all about conformity in Japan.

Top Series: A Japan Airlines Co. (JAL) group companies’ new employee, third from right, holds a paper plane while standing in line with other new employees during a welcoming ceremony at the company’s hangar near Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan, on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. The jobless rate dropped to 3.6% in the worldís third-largest economy according to data released on March 28. Photographer: Yuriko Nakao/Bloomberg

Bottom series: New ministry workers bow during a welcome ceremony for them at Defense Ministry in Tokyo, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. Japan relaxed a decades-old ban on military-related exports Tuesday in a bid to expand joint arms development with allies and equipment sales to Southeast Asia and elsewhere. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)