A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

SDX Awards: Art/Graphics, photography features, John Moore

By Quill

Fhe 31st Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad is the busiest combat trauma hospital in the world. Fighting to save the lives of U.S. troops, civilian contractors, Iraqi civilians and even insurgents, the medical staff works around the clock.

Associated Press photographer John Moore was the only photojournalist allowed to be inside the hospital. Originally an overnight assignment, Moore’s work turned into an extended stay. He captured images that illustrate the human toll of the war in Iraq with exceptional intimacy and honesty.

“The image of a male Army nurse giving CPR to a dying soldier while riding atop the gurney caused quite a stir in the U.S. media,” said Moore. “Some newspaper readers were outraged that their publications would run a photo they said was disrespectful to the soldier. Other readers said it was a tough image, but necessary to bring home the reality of war.”

Military higher-ups attempted to end Moore’s stay at the hospital. However, the medical staff stepped in and successfully argued that it was important that world see Moore’s pictures.

“The military has tried to limit media coverage of Americans wounded and dead in Iraq,” said Moore. “This particular coverage brought home that reality and showed the heroism of the Army doctors, nurses and medics charged with saving lives in Iraq.”

The rules for Moore were simple: he couldn’t show the faces of the wounded without their consent, and he couldn’t get in the way of the medical staff.

“These guys are the true heroes of the war, in a war that is looking less and less heroic,” said Moore.

Judges said Moore’s photographs stood out with their raw nature.

“It was gritty, in-your-face journalism,” said judges. “In a year where soldiers’ injuries and deaths were on the front page daily, John Moore took us inside the combat hospital and showed us a different side of the war. His photos put a human face on the casualty numbers and left us with images that are hard to forget.”