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U.S. Marine Cpl. Brian Knight, of Cincinnati, Ohio, with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Marines, pauses briefly in the heat to rest with his heavy pack filled with mortar equipment, ammunition, food, and water in the Nawa district in Afghanistan's Helmand province Saturday, July 4, 2009.
Corporal Brian Knight. David Guttenfelder, July 3, 2009. Helmand province, Afghanistan."In 2009, I joined the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Marines on an operation into a district called Nawa in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. The Marines said that it was the biggest air assault since the Vietnam War. We were inserted by helicopter in the middle of the night and went on foot for days through the desert carrying everything on our backs. Resupplies were sling loaded into open terrain by helicopter every three days. It was one of the roughest, hottest trips I experienced during the decade I spent covering the war in Afghanistan. This was July 3 at the end of the day. It was well over 100 degrees. The Marines had been walking since early morning and some guys had already been evacuated by helicopter for heat stroke and broken ankles. We passed by a few others lying in stretchers on the dirt road with IVs in their arms while medics and fellow marines poured water on their bare chests. Everyone still had more to travel and a river to cross. When they arrived they would still need to dig trenches so they could sleep under the ground for protection from Taliban mortor attacks. They were promised a resupply of water. Every fifty meters or so men would stop and stoop at the waste, trying to rest under these heavy packs and body armor. Cpl. Brian Knight had it the worst. He was one of the guys on the mortar team so on top of the water, food, usual combat kit and ammo, he also had to carry rockets, the mortar base plate, and more. He was only 21 years old and small. I think he told me that he weighed 140 pounds. His huge pack weighed the same. The next morning was the 4th of July. So many others back home in the USA were grilling burgers and drinking cold beer by the lake that day. These guys woke up at first light, after sleeping in holes in the ground that looked like graves, hoping only some drinking water would arrive. I think about all of the guys I met over the years in Afghanistan and Iraq. I’d been living abroad my whole adult life and so these guys were the few Americans of their generation I’d ever really known. On Sept. 11, 2001, Brian Knight may have been in 7th or 8th grade."David Guttenfelder—AP
U.S. Marine Cpl. Brian Knight, of Cincinnati, Ohio, with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, 1st Battalion 5th Marines, pauses briefly in the heat to rest with his heavy pack filled with mortar equipment, ammunition, food, and water in the Nawa district in Afghanistan's Helmand province Saturday, July 4, 2009.
Tyson Johnson III, 22, a corporal and mechanic with Military Intelligence at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad, was injured in a mortar attack. He suffered massive internal injuries. Photographed at his home in Prichard, Alabama,  May 6, 2004.
USA. San Antonio, TX. 2014. Bobby Henline flexes his muscles with his son Skyler at their home outside San Antonio.Bobby Henline was burned over 38% of his body when his humvee was destroyed by an IED in Iraq in 2007. After a lengthy recovery, he is now a standup comedian and motivational speaker.
AUGUST 2006: Three wounded U.S. Army soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division await evacuation by helicopter from Kamdesh, Nuristan province. They were ambushed and suffered wounds to their eyes and foreheads.  (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg)
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Boutwell, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 2003-201, gets ready for the start of the 2011 United States Marine Corps Birthday Ball held especially for soldiers from the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East regiment at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Staff Sgt. Jeremy Boutwell was severely wounded with brain and eye injuries in an attack during a routine patrol in Iraq’s Anbar province in March 2004. With most of his family in the service, Staff Sgt. Boutwell was very reluctant to leave the USMC, even with his injuries. "Being in the Marines is all I ever wanted to do, from the time I was 5 years old. I wish I could continue but my injuries continue to slow me down," he said. "I believe in what we do for our nation. I believe in being a leader." Wounded Warrior Battalion-East is comprised of seven detachments, in addition to the battalion's headquarters and barracks at Camp Lejeune, N.C. The focus of effort for WWBn-E is taking care of wounded, ill and injured Marines and their families as they proceed through the Integrated Disability Evaluation System process.
soldiers with the 173rd battle company, on a battalian-wide mission in the korengal valley in the village of yakachina. captain dan kearney overwatches his troops and controls close air support fire from above the village with a group of his soldiers and the jtacssecond part of the mission is on the abascar rideline, looking for caves and weapons caches and known taliban leaders.
APTOPIX Obit Anja Niedringhaus Photo Gallery
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The Lives Of Soldiers
Iraq changed the men of Lima Company more than they could have imagined, guiding and afflicting them in ways many are struggling to understand.  Lima took more casualties than any U.S. company in Iraq, losing 23 Marines killed in action. The survivors made it home from the war, but they brought the war with them. (2006)
Specialist Sterling Jones of Battle Company in the Second Battalion of the 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team collapses in exhaustion during Operation Rock Avalanche in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007.
Sgt. Brian Keith with his wife, Sara, and their son, Stephen, 6 months, at Fort Drum, N.Y.
Chad Caldwell
Squad Leader SSG Michael Gegebheimer, left, of Alpha Company 3-21 Stryker Batt. watches a video of his newborn baby in the small trailer that has been his home for a year in Foward Operatin Base Courage in Mosul, Iraq.
U.S. Army Sergeant Anderson from 1st Platoon, Apache Company, 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division sits at a temporary patrol base after a patrol in the Tangi Valley, Wardak Province, Afghanistan, on September 11, 2009. ANA and Apache Company conducted a four-day mission to show an increased presence in the area and to search target houses. Photo by Adam Ferguson
Iraq
TITLE: Sgt. Princess C. Samuels, victim of "indirect fire," 2007EXTENDED CAPTION: The body of twenty-two-year-old Sgt. Princess C. Samuels of the U.S. Army rests in a coffin at the Jericho City of Praise prior to a viewing in Landover, Maryland, August 31, 2007. Sgt. Samuels, an imagery specialist, died in Taji, Iraq as the result of "indirect fire."
Female Marines Take On Challenges in Afghanistan
Military War Wounded Get Intensive Treatment At Brooke Army Medical Center
Fighting the Invisible Man
Wounded American service members in rehab at Walter Reed Hospital. Allan Armstrong - Army staff sergeant - leg amputee. Jose Ramos - Navy Corpsman, retired - hand amputee. Cedric King - Army Master Sergeant - bilateral leg amputee. by James Nachtwey
5 June, 2004Sadr City, Baghdad, IraqI was working in Sadr City this day and US forces were getting hit from all sides. We responded to a call for help from a convoy hit by a roadside bomb. When we arrived, I watched soldiers pull the remains of a dead American out of a destroyed vehicle, trying respectfully to hold his body together as they worked. Nearby, I saw these two brothers, both members of 759th MP Battalion. The solder on the left had serious wounds to his right leg and was bleeding badly. His brother, right, said, "I just can't take this anymore, I can't take it, I want to go home." The wounded brother replied, "We came here together to do a job, we're going to do that job and we're going home together. Call our mother and tell her I'm OK." Michael Kamber for the New York Times.
DAVID FURST
Sleeping Soldiers
Corporal Brian Knight. David Guttenfelder, July 3, 2009. Helmand province, Afghanistan."In 2009, I joined the 2nd Marin
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David Guttenfelder—AP
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The Images That Moved Them Most: Photographers on America's Veterans

Nov 11, 2014

On Veterans Day, TIME explores the profound effects of war—both on those who serve, and the people who support them.

LightBox asked 26 documentary photographers who have covered conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan to describe which of their own photographs of veterans had a deep impact on their lives or moved them in a significant way.

Their testimonies are part of TIME's veterans project. Find out more about it on the #TIMEvets page here.

Phil Bicker is a Senior Photo Editor at TIME

TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.