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A retired Master Sergeant with the United States Air Force captures nearly 20 years of photos around the world

Jeremy Lock shared a presentation with Air Force Academy cadets, showing them some of the moments he's captured throughout his career.
Posted at 11:06 PM, Oct 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-13 01:06:20-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Air Force Academy wants to educate cadets on critical issues surrounding genocide, human rights and war crimes. From October 11-13, the Academy is holding the War, Holocaust And Human Rights Conference. They have partnered with the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Over three days, multiple speakers will give presentations on human rights throughout history. One of the featured speakers is retired Master Sergeant Jeremy Lock. He spent nearly 20 years as a photographer with the United States Air Force.

Lock shared a presentation with cadets, showing them some of the moments he's captured throughout his career, and life lessons he wants the cadets to know.

“People ask me, what's your favorite photo and I have not taken it yet,” Lock said.

Throughout his service, Lock has captured many historic tragedies, from an earthquake in Haiti, to a tsunami in Japan, and wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lock takes photographs showing emotion, military action, black and white photos, and more.

He refers to images of military equipment, like a fighter jet, as hardware shots.

“This was the first time I saw a raptor come up and it looked like Star Wars, I was like, I have never seen this plane live by itself. It just came up and I was like, is Darth Vader in there? It was just a surreal experience,” Lock said.

Despite comparing the hardware images to Star Wars, Lock said they hold a greater purpose.

“The most important piece of the hardware shot is the pilot and even more importantly, it is the maintainer who fixes the plane, who works on the plane, to put the plane out there. Why do we have that plane? So we can help the human side of the world. We can respond whether it be in a humanitarian or war time situation,” Lock said.

One of the lessons Lock shared with cadets was the importance of documenting what the United States military does overseas.

“My role is to go in there unbiased, show what happened, how it happened and let you, the viewers decide,” Lock said.

On Thursday many students got the chance to look at his photographs, including Cadet MacDonald.

“A lot of the photos were also about little things like hope and joy and the locals and our military, which I was not expecting to see,” MacDonald said.

MacDonald is a freshman at the Air Force Academy. She said Lock’s lessons about documentation and showing history through a camera lens stuck out to her.

“The public should know whatever it is we are doing, whether that means they are supportive of us overseas, whether they disagree with that, whether they think something should or shouldn't have happened. I think it is important to show the raw truth of what we are doing,” MacDonald said.

One professor at the Air Force Academy, Meredith Scott, said it is important for the cadets to see and understand global issues shown in these photographs.

“For the cadets, it's critical for thinking, what are the tools I need to be ready to lead so that when I am in the operational Air Force, I'm not confronting these issues for the first time. I have spent time thinking about them, creating tools for skills and leadership that are reinforced in the classrooms and also in their military training,” Scott said.

One of Lock’s images shows a young boy looking through trash at a dump in Djibouti, Africa.

“This kid's normal day to day is to go down to the dump and see what he can scavenge to bring home and by the way the dump is on fire. But he has to find what he can bring home to his family in order to provide,” Lock said.

Lock said he has seen a lot of suffering, but said he has a responsibility to document what is going on across the world.

“They need to be shown, you need to see them, it puts things into perspective,” Lock said.

Lock said when he learned the power of an image and how it can change the world, he was hooked. Lock has been a photographer for nearly 20 years. He has now created a podcast to use audio to help elevate his stories.

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