DUTY BOUND is a new initiative of the Alaska Humanities Forum. It draws on the power of the humanities to support deepened understanding of the experiences of Americans afﬁliated with the armed services, whether active-duty, reserve, National Guard, retirees, or veterans. Projects supported by the Forum in the spirit of Duty Bound include Unseen, an ongoing series of portraits of the men and women of the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Unit, created by Alaska writer and photographer Joe Yelverton.
Anonymous Samurai and the accompanying photographs resulted from time Yelverton spent with Alaska Air National Guard pararescue jumper Roger Sparks, who received the Silver Star for conspicuous valor in combat for his actions during a battle in Afghanistan in November 2010.
“Most military rescuers are intrinsically private about their work,” states Yelverton. “One of the unspoken doctrines of rescue work is that a rescuer isn’t a hero when they save people’s lives; in essence, they are professionals who are just doing their jobs. Hollywood and popular culture have created a skewed perspective of military rescue and the special forces in general. In order to build trust with individuals who are innately distrustful of media, the ﬁrst step is having genuine interest in their lives, their well-being, and what’s important to them outside of their professional life.”
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