Jan 1, 2017
By JONATHAN RICHARDSON
Intense Marine Weapons Training in Hawaii
I exhale as hard as I can, knowing it could mean serious injury or worse. My head is down but I have my arms up and my IPhone ready on a friend’s shoulder taking pictures and recording. Just another day in the Marines. Another day I’m asked to do record and document for friends who want photos for their families and loved ones to know they’re safe and doing well. The expedient shape charge explodes, the air leaves your body and lungs but if you exhale it won’t damage your lungs or body from the blast pressure. The door goes flying inwards, a line of guys going through the door including me with my weapon of choice, an IPhone 4. The room is all clear, everyone is safe and the exercise is completed. Time to wrap up this journey and head home to our island of Oahu, Hawaii.
After training on the big island of Hawaii we begin our cleaning of weapons and gear for the ride home on an HSV(High Speed Vessel). All 22 of us are talking about good times we had as I look through my pictures of the few months we were out there training. Friends all expect me to send them the couple hundred photos and videos I snapped of them during training, which I obliged due to the fact I loved my hobby of photography no matter what lens it was through. As I looked through I chose the ones I thought were the most distinct that they could take home to their families and friends to share with. That night we geared up and put everything we had in the HSV and shipped off back home.
The sea was choppy and I couldn’t sleep so I went to the outside deck of the ship to grab some fresh air and collect my thoughts. Corporal Mullens, a husky Marine with a funny personality, joined me a few minutes later possibly for the same reason. Never known for having a serious tone or attitude he seemed collected just as I was. “You know what you did right?” Mullens said as he looked at me, I looked at him in surprise thinking I did something wrong so I simply said “What did I do?”. Mullens looked out towards the sea and said “These are the best moments of our life. Right now we may not realize it but one day we will and you captured that with your pictures.” I never gave it a thought that he was right, we were so caught up in the moment training all this time we forget how important these moments are. I was told that night that I have a talent for photography but it never occurred to me to be more than anything than a fun hobby. We both stared out to sea that night for a while thinking about everything we had been through the last few years while in the military. The deployments we’ve been on and the countries we’ve seen.
Getting back to the island it was time I started my hobby as an amateur photographer where my love for traveling began, Hawaii. Through this I explored Hawaii using every chance I could taking every photo I thought was unique from my own perspective and becoming better through every shot. Without that conversation with Corporal Mullens and living in Hawaii, I probably never would have kept my hobby and never tried to pursue a degree in photojournalism. Sometimes your hobbies, no matter how small, can turn into something amazing if you explore the possibilities.
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About the Author
College student at University of North Carolina in Wilmington majoring in photojournalism. 2012-2016 Marine stationed in Oahu, Hawaii as part of 3rd Marine regiment 3rd Battalion.