As a photographer I’m often hired to capture some of the happiest moments in peoples lives. Weddings, births, families playing... you know, LOVE in its happiest form. I’ve never been hired to capture love in its saddest form, until today. Meet Aura, a retired United States Marine MWD. Aura and her handler (daddy) Mark met in 2010. They instantly shared a bond that all the instructors said was incredible, one of the best teams to ever come through their training. In March 2013 they we’re stationed in Afghanistan together. One day on their way back from patrol they were both injured in an IED blast. Mark and Aura were thrown from their seats. He sustained a TBI with bleeding and bruising on the brain along with back and neck injuries. Aura sustained a collapsed lung and heart arithmia. She was very anxious and couldn’t sleep. They took her to the hospital to see Mark before he was flown stateside for medical care, when she saw he was ok she climbed in his bed and slept for the first time since the accident. Aura had to stay in Afghanistan for treatment until they could have someone fly her back. Marks wife says that finally being able to see Aura again motivated him through his rehabilitation. After he recovered Mark went on to receive The Purple Heart medal. In 2015 Aura retired and went to live out the rest, best days, of her life with Mark and his family. Most of that time was just with Marks wife and daughters as he was deployed again. They joined in on the bond and loved Aura so deeply. Her health was declining and she could hardly walk, eat or use the bathroom un assisted. They knew it was time. She was loved to the fullest and catered to until the very end. She had the best, last day a US Marine could ever dream of. Thank you isn’t enough to express my gratitude for your service RIP Aura N679- End of Watch 2/7/2020 This has been by far the hardest project I have ever taken on. I can’t say I did it with a smile on my face the whole time because that’s not true. While I did greet Aura and her family with smiles and warm wishes I am still human and have emotions. It took everything I had in me to stay strong and not break down with them. I wasn’t strong enough and did in fact quietly breakdown. I become invested in the people who’s lives I capture, fully invested. No matter the form of love I capture just know I feel it too.
As civilians we have no idea what our soldiers go through to protect our country, so we can go where we want when we want, so we can post on Facebook, have the jobs we want and have the things we want. Our soldiers sometimes aren’t always people, they are animals. Willing, able and brave enough to go where man cannot. God Bless ALL of our soldiers