The 11 best photos of the US military in 2018, according to an award-winning Army photographer


They say a picture is worth a thousands words, so I'll keep this short: These military photos are worth your time.

Army Master Sgt. Michael Sauret, who recently won the Military Visual Award's 2018 Photographer of the Year, told Task & Purpose that the below photos "display the wide range of military moments, from the loud and high impact, to the quiet and subtle."

"Obviously, military advertising and official DoD web platforms want to show all of the excitement service members have once they join the military. That's what attracts new recruits. But if you serve long enough, you know those moments are very few and far between," Sauret said. "And yet there is so much richness to explore, document and show the world in the in-between slices of life in the military experience."

According to the Military Visual Award's website, the contest "highlights the fact that military photojournalists are capable of producing the same quality of work as civilian photojournalists."

Here are Sauret's favorite photos that placed in the competition.

1. "I wrote a whole feature story on The Old Soldier. He's a Korean War veteran. A brutal, brutal war, and despite it all, his Soldiers used to call him 'Smiley Moran' before he took on the nickname 'Old Soldier' in Vietnam. For being a war veteran, he has the gentlest souls. ... Photographing older veterans helps us stay humble to remember the souls who served before us." 

Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond Moran (Ret.), affectionately known as the "Old Soldier," flips through a book on the Korean War during a portrait session in his home in Odenton, Maryland. Moran served in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Cambodia and during Desert Storm.

Photo: Master Sgt. Michael Sauret/ U.S. Army Reserves

2. "Heather is an incredibly strong woman, and this moment frozen in time — to me — spills beyond the frame because it reminds me of her own personal sacrifices and forsaking her own ambitions for our family. ... [T]he power in this image reminds me that I owe all my success to my wife. If it weren't for her, I'd never have accomplished any of this." 

Master. Sgt. Sauert's wife, Heather, after giving birth to her fourth son. As a military wife, Sauret faces the challenge of a husband who travels frequently for his Army work, which means she will spend many weeks throughout the year raising and caring for her four boys on her own.

Photo: Master Sgt. Michael Sauert/ U.S. Army Reserves

3. "What makes this image pop is the light, and how this huge aircraft fills the frame, and there's that human side behind the technology. I often say that stories are not about things, they're about people. ... This image beautifully connects those two elements in a single frame." 

Photo: Tech. Sgt. Larry Reid Jr./ U.S. Air Force

4. "I would print this. I would honestly print this and frame it an put it on a wall. There's a beauty to that open sky and just a little bit of dust being kicked up under the Soldier's feet. It makes you wonder about his journey. It feels like a deployment photo, even though it's not. It's very grand and poetic." 

A U.S. Army Soldier, assigned to the 10th Mountain Division and East Africa Response Force, maneuvers on the range during squad live fire training in Djibouti, July 17, 2018.

Photo: Tech. Sgt. Larry Reid Jr./ U.S. Air Force

5. "I can feel that punch slamming into the other boxer's cheek and that burst of sweat shooting out. That lighting is fantastic and the moment is so violent and powerful." 

Former Special Operator 1st Class Mitch Aguiar strikes his opponent Brandon Pennington during his first professional Mixed Martial Art match, Jan. 28, 2018, at the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Va.

Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ignacio Perez/ U.S. Navy

6. "I know exactly how this image was made, and yet it feels like trying to decipher a ghost, especially with the see-through remnant of one of the marines hovering in the foreground, and the other two marines frozen by the flash of light below. The layers are stellar. It feels like several moments drawn in at once." 

U.S. Marines fire an 81mm mortar during training in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Hajin, Syria, August 4, 2018.

Photo: Staff Sgt. Corey Hook/ U.S. Air Force

7. "You can almost taste that fog or smoke coming in. The mood feels ominous, while this flash of light from the machine gun's muzzle flash burst through. I love that this photographer didn't try to 'fix' the contrast. It would have ruined its authenticity." 

A U.S. Marine with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Africa fire an M240B medium machine gun during Joint Stars, a bilateral training exercise with Italian military forces and U.S. Marines, in Capo Teulada, Sardinia, May 13, 2018.

Photo: Sgt. Holly Pernell/ U.S. Marine Corps

8. "The light is fantastic, and you know this Marine is about to enact some violence with his fists, yet the quietness of this portrait makes me appreciate this Marine. It makes you thankful to know he's on your side of the fight (beyond the ring)...this moment pauses to appreciate the quiet side before the action." 

Cpl. Oubigee Jones spends his off-time honing his boxing skills with the intention of trying out for the Marine Corps boxing team in the near future. Although Jones boxed before joining the military, he was inspired by Marines he met in the Corps to get back into the sport.

Photo: Sgt. Brittney Vella/ U.S. Marine Corps

9. "This looks so much fun! Detached from anything, enjoying the free fall. It's one of those images that make you envy someone else's experience of that moment." 


Photo: Tech. Sgt. Larry Reid Jr./ U.S. Air Force

10. "The composition and the colors of this image pull me in. ...  It's one of those images that make you wonder about the subject, what he's thinking, what he's experiencing. Does he miss home? Is he trying to solve a problem in his mind? It's such a simple image, and yet the various details, colors and textures keep you in the frame." 

ATLANTIC OCEAN (May 17, 2018) Seaman Austin Mercer, from Somerset, Kentucky, stands life buoy watch on the fantail aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).

Photo: Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Hurt/ U.S. Navy

11. "I just love that orange wall and how the colors pop, and then it brings you in to enjoy this multinational partnership between a U.S. Marine and a Norwegian Soldier. It's a fun, light-hearted image that pierces through what is probably a very serious and important training exercise." 

Cpl. Sierra Walker, a Clarksville, Tennessee, native with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 18.1, climbs over a Norwegian soldier during close-quarters combat training at Leksdal Skytefelt Training Complex, Norway, March 27, 2018.

Photo: Master Sgt. Clinton Firstbrook/ U.S. Marine Corps

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