The final withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this summer gave me a reason to revisit a collection of portraits I made when the war was just beginning, almost 18 years ago. Faces of Heroes is a collection of portraits of U.S. Army soldiers returning to the Middle East after a two-week furlough back home in the states.

When their planes landed at Baltimore Washington Airport, the soldiers would run through the airport, free from everything they had left behind and eager to maximize their time home. But on their return date, things were totally different. Soldiers were required to arrive early in the morning, yet would depart in the afternoon – a classic “hurry up and wait” situation.

With the permission of the U.S. Army and the BWI airport authority, I set up a small studio at the airport, chose a plain background and kept the lighting subtle so as not to distract from the soldier’s faces. The result is a set of simple, yet striking portraits – a man with a soft smile holds his daughter, his uniform and military crop next to her curly blond hair and sparkly pink shoes; then a woman in uniform leaning on her father, a Vietnam veteran with a vest that reads “Jesus – Coming Soon”.

With the support of Lockheed Martin, Faces of Heroes was displayed in the rotunda of the Russel Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in the summer of 2005. From 2013-2015, larger-than-life prints from the collection (three by five feet) were displayed at the Pentagon.