Award-winning photographer Cade Martin, who photographs Capitol Communicator’s “up close and personal” profiles, has completed a moving and meaningful assignment: Honoring former Air Force pilots who served our country during the war in Vietnam.  According to Cade, “For years, in the face of so many loud voices taking stock and making record of this controversial war, the men who flew the missions have been notably silent.” Cade’s project, Over War, is a portrait series that reveals the scope and reality of the conflict from their unique vantage point flying over the war below.

By way of background, Cade was seven years old when the Vietnam War ended, and “I know what I do – as most my age – from movies and documentaries. And most of what I encountered was about the ground troops, rarely about the pilots.

“So I jumped at the chance to attend one of their reunions in San Antonio. And owing to special circumstances, they welcomed us in – just me and a small crew. Over portraits, their shared, collective story was told, and it was full of revelations that might leave you speechless.

“I observed lives reconnecting and experiences being relived. These reunions are where the Thunderchief pilots have maintained their shared past and let one another into all that they have been and done in the years since.

“As a photographer, I have always been comfortable learning through the lens, looking for what needs to be communicated in the architecture and life in faces. Set up with my camera in a hotel room, I slowed it down so I would find time to have an ear in their conversations and an eye on their faces.

“I saw joy in their friendships, heard laughter and caught pride in their lives lived. The solemn reality of Operation Rolling Thunder allows them to cherish the good stuff. Observing them, taking that closer look – I could see how valuable that is, where it fits in their stories.

“Once jet-fueled cowboys, they are still walking with a swagger born of knowing themselves. Among the F-105 Thunderchief fighter pilots, there are no secrets. They all know who they are. And by capturing their faces to accompany their stories, I hope more people can know who they are. It was an honor.”

Cade told Capitol Communicator: “While there are not a lot of Thunderchiefs left that can give us a window through which to view and learn from their experiences, we believe it is important that we do whatever we can to make sure they are able to speak their truths, to help us and generations to come, to accurately view the war. So over the coming days and weeks, well be back to tell you about some of those people who are going above and beyond to help collect and learn more about these Thunderchiefs; and ask for your help to get the word out and support their efforts.”

“If there is no heaven,
then just being in the same room with these men for all time
would be good enough for me.”
John Morrissey, Thunderchief Pilot

Check out “Over War”, Cade Martin’s stories and faces of Air Force Pilots Who Participated in Operation Rolling Thunder

To learn more about Cade and his process, check out his behind-the-scenes Postcards from the Edge series here:

Pictured above, top to bottom: John Piowaty, Jessie Henderson, Ben Bowthrope and Tony Cushenberry.




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