Members of the 4th Combat Camera Squadron from March Air Reserve Base, California, documented Patriot Hook 2014 over the course of seven days this April, across three separate locations: Naval Air Station North Island, San Clemente Island, and Los Alamitos Joint Force Training Base. Patriot Hook is an annual exercise simulating a joint military and civilian force response to a natural disaster in a forward deployed location. While Patriot Hook is focused on joint airlift operations, capturing the exercise is its own mission.
Three photographers and three videographers set out to document the activities of the exercise while highlighting the Airmen who keep everything running smoothly on the ground: the Contingency Response Element (CRE) and the aerial porters. A large part of successfully completing the mission of documentation included the important public affairs mission of building trust and communication. Combat Camera needed to be in loop on which agencies were participating, what cargo was being moved, and the scheduled airflow of the day. In addition, the team was always looking for the perfect shot, the perfect captured moment, but this had to be carefully balanced with the safety concerns of working on an active flight line. It was critical to build rapport with the airlift teams in order to work effectively.
Long days and late nights were the call of duty for these Airmen in the field. When the aircraft were put to bed, the day was just getting started for the Combat Camera team. “A lot of these folks don’t realize that when they’re finished, we’re just going to work,” said Technical Sgt. Sarah Corrice, a Combat Camera videographer. “They get to go home and relax while we upload and edit the footage of the day.” These photographers and videographers worked hard to not only document events, but to showcase the work the Air Force is doing and capture important moments of teamwork and training. “Our job is to make them look good and to explain to people outside the career field what these guys do,” said Senior Airman Juan Duenas, a Combat Camera photographer.
When the sun set on Patriot Hook, Combat Camera delivered a finished DVD complete with final video and still photography slide show. The Airlift Control Flights that make up the CRE, as well as the aerial porters, are now better able to represent their work and to defend the value of exercise Patriot Hook. The Combat Camera team returned to base, mission complete.