Mission to Heal in Focus for Photographer
February 29, 2008
Fort Lee, Va. (Feb. 29, 2008) - On the path to healing, Spc. Andrew Heward has found comfort in a lifelong passion for photography.
Heward is one of nearly 50 Warriors in Transition assigned to Fort Lee's WT unit while recovering from injuries. With their mission focused on healing, the Soldiers also make use of their time engaged in tasks supporting organizations throughout post.
Heward's eye for photography has been a great asset since returning from Iraq, where he sustained a hand injury while serving as a combat medic.
After nearly a year in Iraq with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Heward returned to Fort Richardson, Alaska. He found solace behind the camera.
"I started taking a lot of nature pictures at first ... flowers and wildlife and anything I could capture on camera," said Heward. "When I was on post one day there was a change of command ceremony. I wasn't in the formation, so I asked the rear detachment commander if I could take pictures for the unit."
While covering the event, he met the command information officer taking photos for the installation newspaper.
"We happened to be taking pictures of the same event and started talking about camera gear," said John Pennell, U.S. Army Garrison Alaska. "He said he was just shooting for the fun of shooting, so I told him we'd love to have a chance to publish some of his work."
The experience as a Warrior in Transition assisting the public affairs office was a perfect match for the aspiring photographer, Pennell said.
"We absolutely stumbled onto Andrew by accident, and boy, what a find," Pennell said. "After that, he was in and out of the office as much as his WTU schedule allowed. He covered many assignments for us and always did a quality job."
Heward's photographs appeared in several newspapers and magazines. He said that simply taking photos was thrilling enough, so having them published was an unexpected bonus.
"Being a published photographer feels great," said Heward. "I've kept copies of all the newspapers, and I've just recently won second place in a photojournalist competition."
The 27-year-old Virginian has only been on Fort Lee a week now, and has already made use of his skill. He photographed the WTU activation ceremony Feb. 27 for the unit's newsletter and the post newspaper.
His injury makes it difficult to perform everyday chores like buttoning a shirt or tying shoelaces, but he is learning to adjust.
With a full camera bag of equipment at his disposal, he sometimes worries about dropping some of his gear. But for the most part, he is comfortable with the transition and makes the best of the situation.
"Sometimes manipulating my lens can be difficult, said Heward. "I try not to drop things, especially the expensive ones. Getting my equipment to and from is a little bit hard at times, but it's just something that I've learned to deal with."
He looks ahead to a time after recovery when he can enroll in the school of photography at Virginia Commonwealth University.
"I'd like to work one day for a post public affairs office or maybe a news service," said Heward. "I wouldn't mind returning to Iraq one day. There are a lot of pictures I'd like to take. The way I see it, it's something that I'd like to do professionally when I leave here."