WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II, a photojournalist with 4th Combat Camera Squadron, March Air Reserve Base, Calif., was honored as one of the 12 “Best in Show” for the State Department’s photography contest, “Serving Abroad…Through Their Eyes” at the Pentagon, Nov. 30.
Govea’s image was selected out of more than 3,200 entries in the contest and was one of the first images he took while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, at Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2009. Govea was assigned to the 1/17 Infantry Regiment, 5/2 Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., when he was tasked to cover the unit’s ramp ceremony for one of their fallen Soldiers.
After the prize-winning image was taken by Govea, he spent the next six months providing imagery to their leadership.
“I have the deepest respect for the soldiers that I was attached to,” Govea said.
On Nov. 8, Govea received a call from the U.S. State Department informing him that he had been selected as one of the 12 best photos in the contest.
“I was so happy that my image was selected because it is important to let the American people know what our Soldiers encounter while fighting for this great country,” Govea said. “It won’t get lost in the archives.”
During a Nov. 30, breakfast ceremony at the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, presented Govea with a plaque. Contest winners were also treated to lunch at the State Department and dinner at one of the Smithsonian Museums.
Govea was accompanied by his father during the event, retired Chief Master Sgt. Francisco V. Govea.
“When I saw my son receiving his plaque from General Dempsey, I thought about how his mother and siblings wanted to be there to see him get the award and show how proud they were of him,” said the elder Govea. “I also thought of his grandmother, Louise Navarro Govea, who founded Navarro Studio, the studio that Francisco now operates. How proud she would have been of him using his photography skills.”
The images selected will be part of a permanent display housed at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
“Every dignitary that goes there will see those images and see what the American soldiers did for the country,” said Govea.