Why Am I A Marine?

Photographs by Stephen Dupont

April 1st - 15th July 2018

They call this place Dashti Margo, or “Desert of Death.” There’s nothing here but sand and rock and endless baking horizon. If the homemade bombs don’t kill you, the heat will. This is Helmand province, the Taliban’s heartland.

For this project, I want to gain an intimate window into the lives of this one platoon. I’m hoping to capture something of these men’s hopes and fears, their nationalism and pride, the thrill and the terror, the impact of a never-ending war. I begin by asking each Marine to write down their answers to a simple question: “Why are you a Marine?” I leave my small notebook with them over many days so that each man will have time for reflection and to write something personal. I shoot a series of candid Polaroid portraits of the Marines around the base, and give each of them a positive copy as a gesture of thanks.