Adam Ferguson—VII for TIME
Adam Ferguson. Paktika Province, Afghanistan. September 10, 2011
I was patrolling with Charlie Company, 2-28 Infantry, 172nd Infantry Brigade 5 km from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border when we were ambushed. The Captain had just made the call to head back to base when bullets seared the still tree leaves around us. Sergeant Daniel Quintana was shot in the first minute of fighting and as the fighting intensified, then waned, the Army Medics worked tirelessly to stabilize him, but it was a losing battle. This was the first time Charlie Company had seen one their own injured since being recently deployed to Afghanistan, and it felt like it. Soldiers on the periphery of where the Medics worked on Quintana had wired excited stares focused on the surrounding tree lines that provided cover for their enemy. Closer to the Medics soldiers crouched stunned, some cried, others talked to Quintana hoping to stimulate a fading life. Specialist Michael Miller, age 23 from Melbourne, Florida, sat at the feet of Sergeant Quintana, silent, with a glassy haunted stare.
I saw Specialist Miller through the drama and crouched my way around to him. I tapped him on the shoulder and when he turned and gazed into my lens I not only saw an image from Afghanistan, but an image that could have been made in Vietnam. His expression wreaked of the same senselessness and confusion, the same futility of a life lost under equivocal circumstances.