Sebastian Junger tells Terry Gross about the day the late photographer Tim Hetherington started taking pictures of sleeping soldiers while the two were filming Restrepo:
It was a very hot day, boring day. We hadn’t been in a fire fight for at least a week, perhaps more, and the guys were just zoned out. … [S]oldiers kind of sleep as much as they can. One of them said to me, “You know, if you sleep half the time it’s only a six-month deployment,” and so they were sleeping in the middle of the day, sprawled on the ground in their little bunks … and the flies were buzzing around and Tim was scuttling around photographing them. I was like, “Tim, man, what are you doing?” For me it was the ultimate situation where nothing’s going on journalistically and you can just space out and he said, “Don’t you get it? All the photos you see of soldiers, they’re all geared up and they’ve got their weapons and they’re all tough-looking, but when they’re asleep they look like what they really are which are little boys.” And they did: they all looked like they’re about 10-years-old, so vulnerable, you know. And no nation wants to think that their soldiers are vulnerable, but of course they are and Tim saw that.
Nevalla, Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, 2008. © Tim Hetherington via the International Center for Photography