I looked through several thousand Creative Commons-licensed photos to find one to use for Veteran’s Day. Nothing moved me more than self-titled “Coming to America: Pursuing the American Dream“—active serviceman Personnel Specialist 1st Class Patrick Mbayoh. Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Hall made the moment aboard aircraft carrier USS Nimitz on July 3, 2020, using Nikon D800 and 50mm f/1.4 lens. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, 50mm.
According to U.S. Pacific Fleet, which joined Flickr in October 2009 and whose Photostream is source of the image, Mbayoh is “assigned to the ‘Kestrels’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 137”. A refugee from the Sierra Leone Civil War, Mbayoh arrived in “Brooklyn, New York, in 1998”, Hall explains. “Moving to the U.S. gave Mbayoh the opportunity to pursue a life-long dream”. Joining the Navy in September 2000 opened a path to earning a college education and to repaying the nation that harbored him. The sailor gained “his American citizenship in 2003”, Hall adds. “He and his wife have a child and live in Lemoore, California. Mbayoh hopes to one day retire from the Navy and go back to school to gain his PhD”.
Hall’s portrait takes the holiday for clarity, composition, detail, and patriotism. May the photographer and his subject some day be proud American veterans.
Photo Credit: Greg Hall