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Northwest Photographer Remembers Fallen Heroes Day In And Day OutBonnie King, Salem-News.com
IraqWarHeroes.org is not operated by an organization. It's just Q. The man behind the telephoto lens, who has been present at nearly every funeral for northwest soldiers in the last four years.
(SALEM) - His mission is sincere, and exact. A one-man operation, Q Madp attends funerals and memorials for lost service members in the Northwest whenever possible to pay his respects to the fallen heroes. He photographs the services, then posts a limited amount of them on the hero’s Tribute Page, and provides the other photos at no cost to the immediate family member. No strings attached. It's a Thank You for the sacrifice that they have made.
There are 3457 U.S. troops listed on the DoD casualty list at the time of this report. These men and women have given their all in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Each has an individual Tribute Page on IraqWarHeroes.org.
However, according to founder and photographer Q Madp, there are more lost Americans than the list accounts for.
“I know I don't have them all. Despite what you hear in the news about losing 3,000 Americans, please keep in mind they exclude a lot of them in their reporting.”
Scrolling down the list of names on Q’s website becomes its own moment of silence. Keep scrolling. The list is surprisingly long. Opening page after page gives one an ominous sort of feeling, a tangible sense of loss for the thousands named, one after another. Too many.
Q would agree. As of 2/3/07, he had been to 119, probably more services than any other one person. He’s not pro-war or anti-war either. With Q, that’s beside the point. “I’m not into the politics. We have to take care of our men and women in uniform. And we have to give them respect, even after they’re gone. Besides that, nothing matters. They’re there, so let’s do the right thing.” “The CD I give to the family has snapshots of the event. I try to cover as much as possible without being intrusive at all. I take as many photos as I can, depending on the situation and conditions. Usually, the next day I crop and size them, and create a visual record that can be passed on to the next generation, especially to the ones too young to know now.”
Families of our fallen heroes understand the gift from Q. He does this out of the goodness of his heart, out of his sense of duty, in appreciation of our soldiers’ sacrifice, and that of their family and friends. He has been asked to attend services again and again, where no media or public was allowed. “Sometimes they don’t want any family members to be shown in pictures. I can respect that. Those never show up anywhere but on their CD.” Q is a man of his word.
Nearly 30,000 pictures are posted to his site, available for viewing and to attract attention to this important project. IraqWarHeroes.org has made it to the top of the list of search engines such as Google, MSN, Yahoo! and many others when searching for Iraq War Heroes.
He updates his site daily, with very few exceptions, with current releases of names from the Department of Defense and with photos or other material mailed in by relatives, friends and others that wish to add to the Tribute Page of one of the fallen heroes.
“I hope every day that I won't be adding more names but I also know the reality of war and even when it's finally done, the dying will continue and I will do my best to make sure every one of them is not forgotten and any help in accomplishing this is always appreciated.”
Rarely does Q step from behind the camera; never does he ask for thanks, and usually only gives his web address for acknowledgment of his efforts. Donations, however, are gladly accepted.
“I’m looking for help in getting to all these events. I’m not a rich man, but this is important, so anyone that wants to help me with this project is welcome to contact me. Gas is a big expense, and postage too. Anything helps.”
As of the first of January, Q had driven over 43,200 miles to over 120 funerals, of which 119 where photographed by him for the families of the heroes.
With that many miles on the road, Q’s lifestyle is that of a man on the move. “I don't do a lot of things "normal" people do. I put most of my energy into this site. I'm NOT a non-profit thing and I'm not a profit thing. I make no money here. I get occasional donations of stamps and sometimes a donation to help my gas costs when I head to a funeral.” Traveling in itself entails risk. Icy roads, bad drivers and car problems are challenges Q has had to deal with for over two years, but he has never stopped going to services. “I get tired, but not too tired. I’m always planning my next trip, trying to work it financially, getting my car ready, which is a problem in itself. But the feedback I get from the families make it all worth it. I’m happy to do what I can.”
Not surprisingly, now and then he gets some negative feedback as well. Sometimes people tell him the site is too political, and even challenge their sacrifice. To that, Q says, “BULL! These men and women volunteered to serve and protect our country in whatever capacity that they are assigned.”
Mostly though, Q gets thanked. Thank you’s come from families and friends, especially those whose funerals he photographed. “It’s unbelievable the number of folks that have written me. It’s really nice, I know I’m making a difference.”
Currently, Q’s WarHeroes web projects consist of 26,904 JPG Images, and 19,639 pages, of which over half belong to IraqWarHeroes.org and AfghanistanWarheroes.org. His websites are not automated. Q personally creates a Tribute Page for each new name added to the list. The average time he spends a day on a project: 6.3 Hrs.
This is dedication.
An important issue Q is helping to bring into the public eye is PTSD, what some consider the “other killer” of our heroes. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t a new term for most of us, but in times of war, it is especially critical that this condition is flagged early. PTSD can strike immediately, or creep up later and too often is fatal. For someone returning from battle, the war doesn't necessarily stop for them at home.
If anyone serving in the United States Armed Forces loses their life due to the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, regardless of how they died, and no matter where or when they died, they are listed on the website.
“This is something many people won’t talk about, but we’ve lost a lot of people to PTSD after they’ve come home. It’s not in the news much, but everyone needs to know about PTSD and what affect is has on the person suffering, and what it does to the people around them, so they will know how to get help,” Q said.
“If you know of a hero that died stateside after having serving in Iraq or Afghanistan or both and they are not on my list, please let me know. Many of our heroes when they die stateside don't get reported through DoD releases,” he added.
“It is my mission to remind people of our fallen heroes, to let people know who these men and women are. All of them. A couple of hours, that’s not that much to give.”
For Q, the mission continues. When the time comes, on a wing and a prayer, Q will be there. Joining the Patriot Guard and giving reverence to the man or woman who has given their all, the photographic images that follow are a humble reminder of the greatness of life.
With names being released almost daily of fallen heroes, little time seems to pass between tragic announcements for someone in a nearby town or city. Flags will drop to half-mast, and people will bow their heads. And when it’s over, and the healing begins, the photos of that day will document the celebration of life that occurred, and how our nation gave it’s thanks to one of our own.
Thanks to Q.
To help Q continue attending services of our fallen heroes:
For sources related to PTSD:
Bonnie King has been with Salem-News.com since August '04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.
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