Is he crazy?! That might be the first thought for those who see this photo of Air Force Veterinarian Major Douglas Riley from the 13th Air Force International Health, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, standing in front of wild water buffalo. For Riley, it’s just another day at the office.
Once Riley corralled the water buffalo into the pen, he discovered a cow carrying a stillborn calf. He used the discovery as an opportunity to teach the residents of Fuiloro, Timor-Leste, on the southernmost edge of the Indonesian archipelago, how to examine their bovine livestock.
The photographer, Master Sergeant Jeremy Lock, was stationed with Riley when he snapped this photo of the veterinarian corralling water buffalo into a pen for examination. The airmen were in Fuiloro for Pacific Angel 11-02, a joint humanitarian and civic-military exercise. Lock recalled being very impressed with Riley’s work with the animals.
“He tries to educate people, he doesn’t really give the medicine,” Lock said. “He is there to help teach the people how to administer it.”
Lock, who entered the military in 1992, said his original plan was to stay in for four years. Years later he is still part of the Air Force.
“I became an imagery processor and developed satellite footage,” he explained. “I started picking up the camera and teaching myself ... and fell in love with photography.”
He not only took photography by the reins, he rose to the top. He is the only military photographer to be recognized as the best in the business four times, earning Military Photographer of the Year in 2003, 2005, 2006, and 2008.
His favorite part of the business? “Being able to tell people’s stories.”
Ashley Bernardi is a Virginia-based freelance writer.