FALLUJAH, Iraq -- On Feb. 23, 1945, Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal immortalized the epic Battle of Iwo Jima with his Pulitzer-Prize winning picture depicting the raising of the American flag atop Mount Suribachi.
Sixty years later, Cpl. Thomas Rodman walks the streets here, armed with a rifle and video camera, to continue this documentation legacy.
"Combat camera is a very unique MOS (military occupational specialty)," the 20-year-old Crowley, La. native stated. "Not only do you have to know how to work a camera, but you have to learn all the basic traits of the infantrymen, because you work right next to them whenever you're shooting video and photos."
Currently, the 2002 Crowley High School graduate is serving a year-long combat tour alongside photographer Cpl. Robert Attebury documenting the hardships and day-to-day operations their fellow Marines with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment undergo here. Whether filming Marines standing sentry duty or accompanying the infantrymen on patrol, Rodman's team of two aims to capture the moment, one frame at a time.
"The mission of combat camera is to document everything that the units do out here," Rodman stated.
The military uses the video and photo material combat camera teams like Rodman's capture to gather intelligence on enemy activities.
The job of documenting Marine Corps operations is one that keeps his team steadily busy, and constantly seeing new people and places, Rodman said. Combat camera is one of the smallest occupational fields in the Corps, so he often spreads himself thin to get each of the more than 1,000 members of his battalion some camera time.
"Knowing that there are so few of us to cover so many others makes me feel like my job is important," Rodman continued.
Since reporting in to his present unit in mid-March, his team has compiled thousands of photographs and hours worth of video footage. They have used much of this imagery to edit Iraqi Security Forces training videos, as well as a "Greetings from Iraq" mini-movie for stateside families of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment personnel. This consisted of a music video of routine training and operations Marines conduct here, as well as a part featuring dozens of Marines who volunteered to say "hello" to their loved ones.
Jobs like these give Rodman great satisfaction in his mission, he said.
"I like being able to tell the whole story, of being able to capture that one, perfect moment. A picture really does tell 1,000 words."
As both a cameraman and a Marine, Rodman enjoys substantial access and knowledge of all activities his battalion conducts. As he continues spreading a positive message, the sweltering Iraqi summer months will give way to the chillier, desert winter season. Months after returning from his year-long deployment, Rodman will leave the military to pursue passions closer to home.
"I'm probably going to take a few months off to sit back and enjoy the Louisiana lifestyle again," he said. "From there, I'll start majoring in Business at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette."
Whether at home or thousands of miles abroad, Rodman added that he will forever hold dear the experiences military service taught him.
"Before I joined the Marine Corps, I really had very little drive to do much of anything. During my time here, I've made a lot of good friends and met a bunch of good people. I have a better of idea of what I want to do and who I am now."