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Jim Lommasson September 1, 2014

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in United States.

Arturo Franco, Willsonville Oregon 2005

Jim Lommasson (b. 1950, USA)  is a freelance photographer and author living in Portland, Oregon. Jim received the Dorothea Lange–Paul Taylor Prize from The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for his American Fight Club series. Lommasson’s first book, Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & The Will To Survive In American Boxing Gyms was published in 2006. He is currently working on a book and traveling exhibition about American Veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, and their lives after their return from war called Exit Wounds: Soldiers’ Stories – Life After iraq and Afghanistan. Exit Wounds will be published in 2015. Lommasson was awarded a Regional Arts and Culture Council Project Grant for What We Carried: Fragment’s from the Cradle of Civilization about Iraqi refugees who have fled to the U. S. since 2003.

About the Photograph:

“This photo is of former Oregon National Guardsman Arturo Franco in his apartment in Wilsonville, Oregon. Arturo served in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Because of his PTSD and Arturo’s hypervigilance.  Arturo spends his days bunkered in his near-empty apartment playing Xbox video games like Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare with other gamer vets who speak to one another on headsets while they fight a virtual enemy.”

“Arturo was very frank about his experience at war. He said, ‘What will haunt me for the rest of my life is when we took prisoners of war. I had so much hatred for them. I didn’t care if they lived or died. I will not go into details for fear of the law, but things still haunt me. I remember pulling guard on an insurgent that was about to be turned over to the local warlords. He was flex-cuffed and shaking so bad. I gave him a smoke and started small talk. At some point I did a little hand gesture to tell him that he was about to get his head cut off, then I took the smoke from him and said some hateful words. Things like that still bother me. I did not like fighting in Iraq. I did not believe in why we were there. I went because I felt like I owed my friends that were killed over there. They had everything to live for: family, wife, kids. I had none of that, so why didn’t God take me?’ As I was interviewing Arturo while he fought virtual battles on the TV screen, the light from the setting sun projected his shadow on the wall of his apartment. I felt that this moment told his story best.”