The Digital Journalist
© David Leeson

Taking the Plunge. Iraq

(L to R) Spc. George Gillette and Spc. Robert Boucher with Task Force 2-69 Armor, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Benning, Georgia, jump into an irrigation pond somewhere in Iraq. I had a goal to shoot at least one good photo each day - if possible. This image, part of the Pulitzer portfolio, was made near sunset on the drive to Baghdad. I had not made a single image all day. I was about to give up the idea that I would see anything worth shooting when I heard that soldiers were headed to some "pond" in the desert. The truth is I was very tired and was almost disappointed that I was going to have to grab my camera and follow. But, duty called and I went. Both of these soldiers stood on the side of the irrigation pond and discussed if they would get in trouble if they jumped.

I kept my mouth shut and watched. I knew if they jumped it would make a great photo but also knew that journalistic integrity meant that I could not enter into their decision-making process on whether to jump or not. Of course, they finally decided it was worth the risk and made the plunge. After making the photo - I jumped too. The water was very cold but after weeks without a bath it was a wonderful respite from the reality of war.