JimSpiri.comJim Spiri
Is the Hometown Combat Correspondent

















Follow this link to hear all of Jim Spiri’s Audio’s from “10 Years Later” trip.





Jim’s Audio Interview with Don Viray

In Memory of

CW2 Don Viray


April 25, 2012…Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA…Today was a bitter-sweet day. All my friends from the New Mexico National Guard that I was honored to be embedded with in Afghanistan recently, returned home. It was a beautiful sight to see. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and hundreds of other local folks all turned out to welcome home some New Mexico heroes. I found my way onto the tarmac to the place where each soldier stepped off the plane. I shook hands with many and hugged some familiar faces. It’s good to have them home. Continue Rest of Story


Father of soldier killed in action in Afghanistan speaks to Jim Spiri on Memorial Day, 2012

In July of 2010, I conducted an audio interview on Cpl. Jimmy Robinson, United States Army, at Forward Operating Base Boris, in Paktika province Afghanistan. One month later, Cpl. Robinson was killed by indirect fire that came from Pakistan and landed on the base. I tracked down Jim Robinson Sr and gave him the audio of his son. From that point on, we have become good friends. Jim Robinson Sr., speaks about what a father goes through losing a son in war. It is a must hear audio.


Click here to listen ->





Viet Nam veteran speaks about Memorial Day 2012 to Jim Spiri"


Mr. Chon Baca, 64-years-old, is my neighbor. I met him one day walking the neighborhood while doing my physical training for a journey to Afghanistan. I realized right away that another one of my neighbors has a critical story to convey to my audience. Enjoy what Mr. Baca has to share and listen closely to his advice to our current warriors returning home from Afghanistan.


Click here to listen ->








Spiri Freelance Theme Song!




It is said that in everything there is a reason. Many people tell me this. Few really believe it. Most folks that say this, do so to comfort someone who has encountered some suffering. Others say it as they try to figure something out that cannot be readily explained. And still others say “there must be a reason” out of habit to explain or justify something. I do not know much about reason. I have never claimed to be the most reasonable person in the room. I generally just don’t see the reason in it. The only thing I can say that I know about reason is that it rhymes with season.


To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose…


There was absolutely no rhyme or reason for me to have done what I did this season in coming here to Afghanistan. Which coincidently is exactly why it made perfect sense to me. Once I began mingling with the soldiers of the New Mexico National Guard that operate these medevac missions, and listened to their stories of why they too came here, a kinship of spirits was ignited. Thus a reason was found without any reasoning.


I just had to come here…. Continue Rest of Story




March 29,2012

Col. Frank Tate

Maj. Ryan Grippin

Lt. Col. Lori Robinson

W5 Gary Button



Ten Years Later

#20 Having Left Edinburgh

March 29, 2012…Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan…Edi is now in the rear view mirror. I am gone but the mission goes on. In fact, as I sat in the helicopter that would take me to Camp Dwyer, I saw the other helicopters get a mission and the crews run out to the aircrafts. That was a hard site to watch. I did not like being in the one helicopter while the others were leaving on mission. That is the pain I don’t like to encounter. The only solace I find is that all the others who are actually doing the missions have to go through it as well. Just don’t look back. Continue Rest of Story


March 28,2012

Cpt. Thomas Dunn

Sgt Ryan Haworth

Sgt. Catina Booker

SPC. Anthony Romero


March 27,2012

LCPL. Brandon Bobieu

Sgt. Keith Gensamer

Sgt. Danny Chavez

SFC. Jeff Johnson

Ten Years Later

#19 “Go…!”



March 25, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…One minute, you can be in the MWR catching up on a phone call and the next minute you’re running to the helicopter because you heard the words over the radio, “medevac, medevac, medevac.” That is exactly how it happens. No matter what you are doing or where you are, the call comes to get to the helicopter and get on it and fly to a place where the helicopter is needed. I never spend any time figuring out where we are going, what it is we’re picking up or what the extent of the injuries are. Soon enough I will find out. Whatever I need to know, the crew will tell me in due time. Other than that I just watch and take photos. Continue Rest of Story




Ten Years Later

#18 Change


March 24, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan. One thing that always happens is change. Those causing change tend to always say, “change is good”. Those being changed may not always agree. No matter what, change is going to happen, except when I go to the store these days. I don’t get any change back from my dollar like I did in the old days. Then there was this phrase four years ago during the presidential election that said, “hope and change”. Wow. Usually I hope that nothing changes. Continue Rest of Story



March 23,2012

Cpt. Kevin Doo

SPC. Jesse Ochoa



March 22,2012

LCDR. Jonathon Auten

Cpl. Christopher DelFratte

Sgt. Edward Martinez III



March 21,2012

Sgt. William Reavis


Lt. Nicole Lundsford


March 20,2012

Afghan Translator

No photos for security purposes...


Sgt. Amanda Montoya

W2 Gabriel Trujillo

Sgt. Troy Hayes

Spc. Brandon Jewell


"Jimmy Spiri, Jr., Afghanistan 2002"


Jim Spiri, Sr., Fallujah, Iraq, 2007


Ten Years Later

#17 “The Family”






March 18, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…Sunday again in Afghanistan. The UNM Lobos got beat. There goes my bracket. I just don’t do well when I bet my heart instead of my mind. It is probably why I never was a bookie... Continue Rest of Story




March 18,2012

Cpt. Andrew Krause

W3. Charles Boehler

SSGT. Derrick Ragion USMC


March 17,2012

W3. Joshua Jacobson


Cpt. Chris Biebeau USMC


March 16,2012

W2. Chris Griego


Ten Years Later

#16 “The Hat”


March 15, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan. My hat got destroyed. It was my own fault. I knew better than to wear it on the flight line as a helicopter is spooled up ready to go. When I worked helicopter flight lines in Hawaii, I told passengers over 10,000 times never to wear your hat on the flight line. A call came down at the same time the helicopter was being run up for crew change. For some reason, it slipped my mind and I thought I was late to get to the aircraft. So, I sprinted out to the flight line, camera in tow, and my favorite hat (my yellow New Mexico hat with Zia sun symbol) and headed to the helicopter knowing full well that was a stupid thing to do. Hat flew off and was subsequently chopped into several pieces... Continue Rest of Story



March 14,2012

Sr. Chief Terry Green


Ten Years Later

#15 “Busy”

March 13, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Early this morning I heard some feet pounding on the plywood that leads outside the area I sleep at. I awoke and jumped into my pants and slid my shoes on and entered the operations tent. I asked, “Is there a mission?” “Yes”, came the reply. “Double amp”. I then grabbed my camera, sprinted to the helicopter and buckled in. It was not yet 6:00 AM. The sky was clear. I had no coffee but was ready. This was the beginning of the day... Continue Rest of Story UPDATED 03/16/2012 7:45 AM MST



March 13,2012

SSgt. Noah Berg


Sgt. Christopher Kist


W2. Jose Moreno


Sgt. Brian Bowling


March 12,2012

Mr. Poulson



Ten Years Later

#14 Crew Duties


March 12, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…Monday. Sky is very clear. Air is cool and the moon is still up in the morning. After an ugly day weather wise yesterday, today looks to be exquisite. I was up early and took a hot shower while most on the FOB were asleep. We were all up late last night doing things to prepare for the following day. Everyone was in a good spirits and awaiting the beginning of the NCAA basketball tournament. New Mexico has two teams in the bracket which should lend itself to great competition. Folks here are preparing daily for the long arduous task of redeploying. It seems it is easier to arrive rather than to depart. Continue Rest of Story



March 11,2012

Spc Wes Trancosa



Ten Years Later

#13 The Expense

March 11, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…Sunday again. It is the one day that I seem to not lose track of. The others are all a blur. The mornings are brisk with a breeze and the daytimes are mild. Skies have been clear and the mountains were able to be seen lately in all directions. The snow that covered the ones in the far off distance has mostly melted now. Dust is beginning to obscure the view today. Here comes summer... Continue Rest of Story







Ten Years Later

#12 Trees In The Middle Of The Forest


March 9, 2012...Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…It is Friday, March 9, 2012. I conducted an interview on Ernie. I finished transcribing the audio. It is now in print form. However due to the current extreme solar flare activity the entire interview is unavailable at the moment. Those of us here at SPIRI FREELANCE , apologize for the inconvenience but hope you will enjoy the photographs from today as a replacement. Sometimes, less is more. In this case, if you want more, I must give you less. See the Picture Story HERE.


Jim Spiri




March 09,2012

Gnry. Sgt. Kendra Bowen




March 08,2012

W2 Daniel Nicolaus

SPC tosa





Ten Years Later

#11 Into The Sunset


March 7, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…One mission today to pick up two working dogs. It came late in the afternoon. First mission in almost three days. There is definitely a lull now. What it is attributed to is anyone’s guess. Whatever the case is, quiet is good in these parts. Everyone wants to be doing their jobs however, all accept that if there are no missions there are no American casualties to pick up either. That is a good thing… Continue Rest of Story




March 06,2012


W2 Aaron Caswell

Sgt. Heath Petty

SFC Jesus Maestas





Ten Years Later

#10 Just What People Do


March 6, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…Tuesday, and the wind is blowing what feels like an arctic blast. The sky is not clear. There have been no missions for almost two days now. We had two medevac calls, however the folks somewhere higher up decided to give the mission to a different group of folks who have a sort of flying hospital on a bigger helicopter. Right before take off on both calls, we got cancelled. It is a complicated decision… Continue Rest of Story




March 05,2012

W2 Ryan Teves



March 04,2012

Lt. Holly Vance





Ten Years Later

#9 “TODAY”


March 3, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…We had one mission today. It came in the afternoon right after I told one of the crew chiefs here that it seemed slow and I mentioned that it was like that the day previous when it all let loose. Not ten minutes later and the call came for a medevac. This time I was second to the helicopter but the guy that was first forgot something. That made me first by default according the medic Sgt. Papp. He smiled when he told me that... Continue Rest of Story




March 03,2012

W2 Brandon Seay




Ten Years Later

#8 “Medevac..Medevac…Medevac”


March 2, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…It is at last, heading towards midnight. It’s been a busy day, although it started out slow. I did not think it would be busy today. I was wrong... Continue Rest of Story



March 02,2012

CW2 Carlos Sena

W2 Mario Medina


March 01,2012

Sgt. Zachery Menzie







Ten Years Later

#7 “Kids My Own Age”


March 1, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…It is Thursday, March 1. The sun was shining all day and it was actually warm. Spring is for sure on its way and it will be short. Summer will arrive with a vengeance bringing unbearably hot weather. For now though, it was comfortable. But, today was busy and sad. Continue Rest of Story



February 29,2012

Staff Sargent Ian Weiger. Picture was taken on February 29, 2012.


Crew Chief Sgt Felicia Espinosa, 33-years-old, from the Arizona National Guard, is seen caring for an injured Afghan national in Helmand province that was hit by a vehicle and medevaced to a medical facility for treatment. Photo by Jim Spiri, SPIRI FREELANCE


Sgt Felicia Espinosa






Ten Years Later

#6 Simple Amenities


February 28, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan…Today is Tuesday. It is sunny, but cold. There is still mud all over the place. I’ve been fighting a cold that has crept up on me. One of the Captains here who is a medical professional gave me some cold remedy stuff and it seemed to have let me get a good night’s sleep. I was very thankful to him as well as another soldier who handed me another remedy called “airborne” that helps as well. There is no doubt these guys look after me…. Continue Rest of Story




February 27,2012

Sgt Cliff Aughe, Awarded the prestigious
QUAD A NCO of the year!
Sgt Cliff Aughe


Sgt Eric Papp, from Minnesota National Guard speaks about his deployment working with NM Guard
Sgt Eric Papp


Sgt Jason Bowen.

February 27, 2012 - Jim Spiri, forward operating base Edinburgh, Helmand province, Afghanistan...

Ten Years Later

#5 FOB Edinburgh





February 26, 2012…Forward Operating Base Edinburgh…It is Sunday. Skies are cloudy and it is a bit windy. It’s possible that weather could play a factor in today’s events. This is a Marine base. The Army medevac unit from New Mexico that I am with services the USMC as their customer. It is a unique relationship and one that has received high accolades from all involved. I love being here. Continue Rest of Story



February 25, 2012... on a run from Camp Dwyer to Forward Operating Base Edinburgh in Helmand province, Afghanistan



February 25,2012



Spc. Armando Martinez, a crew chief on Blackhawk medevac helicopters, is seen here with a military working dog that is being transported for treatment.  Martinez is from Santa Fe, NM and is part of C-company, 1st BN, 171st AVN Regiment serving at forward operating base Edinburgh, in Helmand province Afghanistan.

Sgt Meg Ford, 28-years-old, is pictured here at Camp Dwyer, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Ford is a flight medic serving with C-Company, 1st BN, 171st AVN Reg, of the New Mexico National Guard


Sgt. Meg Ford


February 24,2012

Feb 24, Jim Spiri
Jerry Moya


Feb 24, Jim Spiri
Sgt. Benavidez


Feb 24, Jim Spiri
Sgt. Hardisty

Feb 24, Jim Spiri
Capt. James Mitchell


Feb 24, Jim Spiri
1st Sgt. Charles Boyer



February 23,2012


Feb 23, 2012 Jim Spiri -
CW2 Patrick Magill


Feb 23, 2012 Jim Spiri -
Curtis Tenorio




Feb 23, 2012 Jim Spiri –
Sgt Albino Griego









Ten Years Later

#4 Helmand Province Afghanistan


February 22-23, 2012…Kandahar Air Field to Helmand province Afghanistan…It is now Thursday, February 23, 2012. I have arrived at my destination, Helmand province Afghanistan. This is where I feel best to have been brought to in Afghanistan. I left the Media Support Center on Kandahar Air Field at 1030 hrs on Wednesday, February 22. The public affairs folks at this place were superb and took exceptional care of me. They are a reserve unit from South Carolina. They did a wonderful job… Continue Rest of Story



2-21-2012 “On Walk-About at Kandahar Air Field





Ten Years Later

#3 Wintering in Afghanistan


February 20, 2012…Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. I’m in a new place that I’ve been to before. Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan. I’ve actually been in the exact room I am sitting in right now. It was over 110-degrees last time I was here and crowded with other embed hopefuls. Now, it’s like a ghost town and the rain has flooded everything including a fair portion of the room I’m in. Sitting here at 2:00 AM, barefoot, tired but needing to write, I ponder a few things that I’ve done this week and during my life. – ALSO - This story also features an Audio of a miraculous meeting of longtime family friend, Sgt 1st Class Clay Sauer when Jim got to Kandahar late last night…. Continue Rest of Story




#2 Snow Day Delay


February 18, 2012…Kabul, Afghanistan. It is Saturday and all things are on hold. I arrived on Friday morning around 10:00 AM in a snow storm. Flying over Kabul and peering out the window seat, it wasn’t until about five minutes prior to landing did I see the terrain below. We had come in through clouds and all I could see was white. Then….. Continue Rest of Story





#1 The Serving Observatorianist


It is February 15th. I am in an airport on my way to Afghanistan, one more time. The most common question lately to me is, “Why go again?” The answer is elusive at times but always in my being. It is a matter of serving those who serve. Continue Rest of Story





Jims Latest FaceBook posts!

17 February 2012...arrived in Kabul to a snow storm. It's cold, wet, and of course, it's Afghanistan. Got to the base, stood in the snow for quite some time, then realized I was back in the zone again. Nothing happens fast. Got a cot in a tent with a bunch of soldiers from Belgium. Had coffee, found the bathrooms, found the internet. Now, a waiting game to fly south to Kandahar. Not gonna move for several days is the word. The snow is beautiful, but, it is cold and wet. Flying commercial in Afghanistan is not so bad, but, would rather fly mil-air. Too bad all those empty seats won't let me on. Check back for his next story!.


February 18, 2012...Kabul, Afghanistan. Snowing all day long. Not going anywhere fast today, or for several days now. Did not factor in getting stuck in a huge snow storm. Will take photos today of the snow. Jim


Note from Jim’s semi-webmaster….. We are Posting Jim’s Facebook status reports here until we get his official story…. Stay tuned…. David




Jim Spiri and Governor of New Mexico, Susana Martinez,
discuss Spiri's upcoming embed with
New Mexico National Guard troops
Afghanistan. February 10, 2012 Santa Fe, NM.


Click Here to listen to the Discussion. MP3 Format…





Jim Spiri, September 2010, Helmand province, Afghanistan




The Last Journey



On September 11, 2001, my wife Candi and I were at our daughter and son-in-laws home in rural Oklahoma, on our way to Washington DC to meet with members of the United States Senate. Two months earlier, we had buried our son Jesse, a newly commissioned 2nd Lt in the United States Marine Corps. Jesse was commissioned on May 11, 2001. Twenty-four hours later he had a seizure and was medevaced up to Albuquerque, NM. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
October 4, 2010
The Last Flight #51

In the early morning hours of October 3rd, sometime around 0200 hrs, we landed at Ramstein Air Base. I knew this place from having been stuck here way back in July, which now seems like a lifetime or two ago. It was cool and downright chilly outside but it had a nice feel to it. You could see your breath in the air. It was definitely not the desert now. The aircraft came to a halt. We were escorted down the stairs of the aircraft and waited as the stair truck pulled up to the door so we could disembark the plane. We walked down the final set of stairs on the C-5 and we got into a van to take us right over to the terminal. Everything looked familiar and clean, neat and orderly. I would not have to go through the hassle of trying to figure out how to get on the base this time because I was already on the base. All I had to do now was walk across the street and book a room at the Air Force Inn hotel which in my mind is the most convenient hotel I have ever stayed at in all my travels. And the price is excellent. $39 a night. The rooms are fantastic, clean and there is a free laundry on every floor. All I had to do was check in. I was on record of having stayed there back in July so there would be no hassle of producing a CAC card or going through the drama of showing them my orders and arm wrestling with them like I did before just to stay in a room… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
October 2, 2010 In a C-5 Airplane
The Long Reach #50

It is almost 1900 hrs (7:00 PM) on October 2, 2010. I am in a C-5 cargo airplane with the engines running getting ready for takeoff from Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan heading towards Ramstein, Germany. Out of nowhere, a flight to Germany appeared and would take five passengers. I was told this by a lady who works behind the counter at the pax terminal. She had been aware of who I am and what I was trying to do. I had kept my cool all the way down the line and had decided this day to hang out at the terminal even though no flights were said to be available. If I wanted to go to Germany, I had to give her my passport and orders right now. That is exactly what I did. After being told since September 22, that I could not fly to Germany, I am now taxing down a runway in a United States Air Force C-5 aircraft, the exact same type of aircraft I landed in Afghanistan on back in July, headed now for Germany. Twelve days after I left Fox Company 2/6 Marines in Koru Chareg at COP Turbett… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
October 1, 2010 Bagram Air Field
The Last Leg #49

It is Friday, October 1, 2010. I am at Bagram Air Field. It is a little after 9:30 AM in the morning. The air is cool, but warming up fast and the sky is clear. I can see the mountains surrounding this place once again. Some of them at the top are covered in snow. It is quite scenic, from a distance. I am in a room that I have been in before. The journey is ending. There is still half a world to travel through but the last leg is nearing. The previous night was long and a little complicated but things may becoming more simple if all goes as I think it will… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 29, 2010 KAF
Crossing Borders #48

It is Wednesday, September 29, 2010. I have been stuck in Kandahar now for six days with no light at the end of the tunnel. I have tried to make the best of a lousy situation. All I can think of is that I would rather be back at COP Turbett pouring cold water over my head to get clean and living a rougher lifestyle with people that care about me rather than have the all the comforts of life that Kandahar Air Field offers and put up with the folks here that really don’t like me. I don’t want to deal with the “city life” again in the middle of the war zone. Basically, I am ruined from here on out. Just the way things play out from time to time… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 25, 2010 Kandahar Air Field, MSC
Why It Hurts When They Won’t Listen #47

I don’t like to be right. It is easier for me when I am wrong. Some things are just unnecessarily complicated by people’s stubbornness to just think a tiny bit outside the box for a little while. Today I had to force some people to listen to me. It was unpleasant to do so, but in the end, it had to be done. There will be repercussions from it all, that I am sure of. But, at this point I just don’t care anymore about pleasing people that will not listen. I don’t care anymore about being liked or disliked. I just want to be able to go from point A to point B without a bunch of bullshit in-between. The more simple I try to explain things the more complicated the resulting issues become. I will just have to live with a bad reputation. I honestly don’t give a damn anymore… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 21-24, 2010 Kandahar Air Field
In a Jam
Part 5 #46

September 23, the second day of Autumn and I’m in Afghanistan at Camp Dwyer. I will try to Space A myself to Kandahar at the suggestion of my public affairs office at Dwyer. I came into this country on a C-5 from Ramstein and landed at KAF (Kandahar Air Field). This is what I was told to do, go out the same way you came in. I know the rule is just that, you go out the way you come in. At least that is the rule until someone decides on a particular day that it is not the rule. So many rules that no one knows a thing. What most people know for sure however is how to cover their own ass. That is the name of the game in most everything relating to things other than front line fighting in infantry units… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 21-24, 2010 Camp Dwyer
In a Jam
Part 4 #45

It is now September 22 and I’m waking up early at Camp Dwyer. I will get a shower, a real one with limited running water, but not under a well spicket. The water will be cold, but not freezing and it will be able to be turned on and off with a handle. What a luxury. I am determined to clean up, brush my teeth, wash my hair, shave, and then maybe take a shower again, just because it’s available and has not been so for a while. I’m feeling guilty for doing such a thing knowing the guys at Turbett are having to pump their own water which sometimes does and sometimes does not work. After getting cleaned up, I head over to the chow hall and grab a small bite to eat and have a good hot cup of coffee… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 21-24, 2010 Camp Dwyer
In a Jam
Part 3 #44

It was now after 6:00 PM on the 21st. I woke up a bit more tired than when I had laid down. I decided to go to chow and walked across the rocks to the chow hall. The minute I got into the chow hall and received my plate, I began seeing familiar faces and people started to stop me and say hello. It’s funny how having been here for only about 5-days a month ago, somehow I had made an impression of folks that stuck. I sat down with some guys who call themselves “social scientists” and ate with them. They are folks a little older than me and are kind of involved in a form of civil affairs and specifically had worked in the recent past right in the COP Turett area mostly around Koru Charegh where I had just come from. We had lots to talk about and I found myself listening to them more than talking to them. I now could listen to what they were saying and decide for myself what it is exactly that they do. They are with a group called “Human Terrain Systems”. They are so called social scientists… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 21-24, 2010 Leaving Turbett
In a Jam
Part 2 #43

It was a brisk early morning rising for me on September 21 at COP Turbett. This would be my last day here. It was also the first day of Autumn. Another season change. A day to leave. I took some photos of the COP, found a cup of coffee, said a few more farewells and coordinated with Ssgt. Ortega who is the convoy commander for this trip. He told me we would be leaving at 0830 and our convoy brief would be at 0815. I was ready. Everything was packed and consolidated as best I could manage and I carried my two bags plus computer bag as well as my flak and helmet to the staging point for the convoy towards the east gate exit area, near the school. That morning I talked a bit with Gunny Miller who was always up early and always had some coffee brewing in his room near the COC. He is for sure the most cordial gunny I have ever come across in the USMC and yet he still carries that gruffness about him to make sure his Marines stay in line. I really enjoyed getting to know this man, this Marine. He’s from New York and has been around a bit. He is not much older than my oldest daughter, maybe a couple years at most, but, he is someone I very much look up to. I was glad at the end to see him. He always had told me during my stay that I was part of the family of Fox Company. That is an honor… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 21-24, 2010 COP Turbett
In a Jam
Part 1 #42

On September 20, at COP Turbett, after being out on patrol once again and getting shot at toward the end of the patrol as usual, I came back into the COP with Langaloz’s squad. It was later in the afternoon around 5:30 PM. The patrol was pretty much boring except for the fact that I broke my camera and got shot at. The on off switch had become sticky lately due to all the dust and at one point it just broke and twisted in circles. Sure enough it was stuck in the off position. I managed to use my leatherman and poke around a bit and get it stuck back to the on position. However, the auto focus did not work anymore at this time and I was forced to try and use manual focus. In the old days, that would not have been a problem, but these days, my eyes are not what they used to be and I knew some shots would be blurry. I was mad and disgusted with the equipment failure, which was now twice in two days. One a camera, the other the audio recorder. It just happens. I managed to get them both working but it is very frustrating when it goes down that way. It takes away the motivation instantly and it always takes a bit of time to regroup… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 19, 2010 COP Turbett
Firefight with Herman, Hollis, Lambert, Johnson, Lamoines and Me

It is Sunday, September 19th. It was an eventful day for me today. One that I will not forget. Today, I feel like I got a few photos that I’ve been trying to get for years. If I went home today, I would be at least satisfied with what I had accomplished and then some. I knew that today would be the day to draw contact in a serious way. I felt it for a number of reasons including the fact that the enemy had pretty much a free roam of things yesterday due to our having stayed inside the wire for the most part because of the elections. I had figured that the enemy would have felt a little more emboldened and would have been out in force a little more today. Turns out I was correct… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 18, 2010 COP Turbett
Voting Day in

Today is election day in Helmund province. It is once again an opportunity for me to witness elections in another third world country. I believe this will be the last time I do such a thing. After a while, it all does seem to look alike from time to time. All kinds of preparations have gone into making sure this day goes off without a hitch, especially security wise. It was determined that Americans are not to be seen on the streets for the most part during the election process so the face of Afghanistan can be seen handling the elections. This also makes sure that no one gets the wrong impression that the Americans are trying to influence the outcome. The little town of Koru Charegh, just outside the COP, will be my backdrop for photographing how this election goes here in for what now is my back yard. It is very convenient for me this day and I don’t have to go far at all to take note of history being made by elections being held here… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 16, 2010 COP Turbett
PMT Patrol to Donkeys

It was Thursday now and I was back with the folks I know best, the PMT Marines. In the morning I managed to get cleaned up by taking a very cold water shower of sorts at the ANA well and washed my hair also. After that I did some laundry and was able to really get my clothes somewhat clean because I had an abundance of water and time to do it right. I borrowed some laundry soap from the PMT tent and proceeded to get my chores done. After that, I got my teeth brushed and shaved. I was not ready for the day. It was now about 11 am in the morning. I managed to collate all my photos from the Sistani village trip and backed up the same photos on different modes. Once that is done the next thing is always to prepare a story set up page with notes to before I forget all the things that just happened. It keeps my mind exercised best doing it that way and avoids me having to play catch up later on down the track. By 2:00 PM the PMT guys were going to roll out to the east towards a road they had not been to previously… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 15, 2010 Patrol Base Chosin
Sistani Village
#38B Part 2

After I woke up at 0200, I realized I would not really go back to sleep all that soundly. I was cold now and very damp. The night sky was beautiful and I just starred for quite a while looking up and trying not to move so as to not feel the cold dampness of my sleeping bag. I buried myself once more in the bag and wrapped it tightly and try to garner as much warmth as I could. I would have to be up in an hour and make sure I could use the bags and get my bowels moving early enough so as not to be inhibited once in the field. This was the rough part of being out here. But, I would soon find out that the hard part was indeed coming… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 15, 2010 Patrol Base Chosin
Sistani Village
#38A Part 1

The days previous I had been told that around the 15th of September the company would exercise an operation designed to “clear” and prepare an area out west called the Sistani village for upcoming provincial elections that were to be held in Helmund province. There were rumors that it could be interesting and there could be some resistance. In the days and hours leading up to the operation, it began to take shape and I realized that it was actually going to be kind of a big deal and that a lot of stuff had gone into this to make it work. I decided I would participate and I inquired with the Captain as to where he would suggest I be in this whole thing that was going to go down. He mentioned that being right up front with the squad with the ANA leading the way would be his suggestion. I decided to follow his lead and that is what I would do… ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

September 12, 13 and 14, 2010

#37 COP Turbett


September 12th was the slow day. September 13th the air was what is called “red” meaning helicopters can not fly so no missions are done due to no medevac support. September 14th was the day to rest for a later in the afternoon departure out to patrol base Chosin, where 1st platoon is to do the mission to Sistani the next day... ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey
September 11, 2010 COP Turbett
“Nine Years Later”

Today it has been nine years since the attacks on 9/11 in America. Like everyone else, I remember exactly where I was on that morning in 2001. When the attacks happened and the reports came out that the perpetrators had originated from training facilities in Afghanistan and were members of some group called, Al Qaeda, I determined that one day I would go to this far away place and see for myself where it was and what it was like and what the heck the conditions were that allowed such events to happen. Today I have succeeded in fulfilling that goal and have found myself embedded with United States Marines in a place called Helmund province on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This marks a milestone in particular journeys for me and it is quite sobering to be here in this very place on this date. I determined specifically to be exactly where I am at this very time for quite a long, long time. I honestly believe that anyone who really cares about what happened to us as a nation nine years ago and is concerned about anyone who is deployed to this region ought to either come here for themselves or at the very least educate themselves to the uttermost about just what it is like here in this place called Afghanistan. I for one had to come because nine years ago my younger son was among the first troops sent into battle in Afghanistan. I felt as his father that my generation sent him here and the least I could do is go and find out for myself exactly why we did so. That is in a nutshell why I am here in Afghanistan on September 11, 2010, nine years after the attacks on US soil that changed all of our lives. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey
September 10, 2010 COP Turbett

Today is Friday, September 10, 2010. I am in COP Turbett in Helmund province, Afghanistan. Six years ago today, I was in Balad, Iraq assisting the CASEVAC crews loading a man that had both legs and one arm blown off from a rocket attack. It is also the night that I was informed that my father had been struck and killed by a car while riding his bicycle in New York. My younger brother has his birthday on this day. The 10th of September is one of those days I know about as we lead up to the 9/11 anniversary. This year, I will be here in Afghanistan which is exactly where I wanted to be this time around. I wanted to see it from the ground level on 9/11, nine years after the fact. It’s been a long time but seems like yesterday. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey
September 7, 8 and 9, 2010 COP Turbett
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
#34 Part C

Thursday, September 9 would find me hooking up with Lt. Johnston who is heading up the training of the Afghan National Army troops here at COP Turbett. He has a big task but it is one that is a very critical component to how things are being done here in Helmund province. Johnston is a Naval Academy graduate and is very decisive in his actions. I had spoken to him on a few occasions earlier and the other day I inquired about going out with him on a patrol. I knew the kind of patrols he did were designed to find the enemy and deal with it. He also has spent the better part of the last 5-months training up a platoon of ANA troops. To his credit, Johnston has earned the respect of his ANA troops as well as his counter parts. Going with him would prove to me that there is some hope in all this goings on we call war in Afghanistan. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey
September 7, 8, and 9, 2010 COP Turbot
#33 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Wednesday morning brought an interesting meeting at the CMOC. Here, many of the local elders would come and meet with Captain Zepeda and his crew, including the two female Marines on the FET team as well as the new female interpreter. The school now is considered a success at this point but the next phase is to draw in the young girls to attend. The meeting that was scheduled is called a “Shura”, which is like a gathering of the elders, all men with white beards on one side and the Captain and his men on the other side. I had heard about these types of meetings in the past but this would be the first organized one I would attend. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

September 7, 8, and 9, 2010 COP Tubett

#32 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Part A


Today is now Thursday, September 9, here at COP Turbett. It’s been a busy last couple of days and it is always hard to catch up on what has and is going on. I will try my best to fill in the gaps before any more time goes by. It is almost half past six in the afternoon now and I’ve been very tired today. I’m also a bit sick with a sore throat and it is taking a little bit of a toll on me. I’ll be fine, I’m drinking plenty of water and ended up taking a long three hour nap today just to recover from the morning patrol. I will start by going back to Tuesday and retracing from my notes the events that transpired. I do not have email access so it is not possible to send things for postings. Such is life and it will all be fine. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

September 6, 2010 COP Turbett

#31 Tajiman (Interpreters)


September 6, 2010 - Every now and then, I have to write something that I know will usually end up getting me into hot water. But sometimes, I just don’t care. Today is one of those times. I will be careful, but I will say my piece of mind. Today was the second day of school... ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

September 5, 2010 COP Turbett

#30 “School Days”


Today is Sunday, September 5. It was the first day of school in these parts in the little town just outside the COP. The community is called, “cooch-a-ray”. I do not know the exact spelling of it. For the past few days, preparations have been being made for this event. Education is something that the Taliban frown upon yet the kids here really seek out to learn. Tents were set up just to the east of the COP as temporary facilities for school while the permanent structure is being built. Final touches were put in place around 0600 hrs with the Marines setting up concertina wire where the entrance to the school is. By about 0700 hrs, students began trickling in for the first day of school. The turnout was the big mystery… ---Click for Rest of Story ---




The Last Journey

#29 September 4, 2010 COP Turbett

Today is actually Sunday, September 5, 2010. I am tired and have slipped on finding the time to write. But now I have some time and will catch up as best I can. As always, there is just too much to write about in any given twenty four hour period. It has taken all my energy and time to just be able to file my photographs as well as my AUDIO and to be able to somehow back them up and keep them for safe storage. Not to mention having found the time to go out on local patrols, keep clean, try to wash clothes and at the same time find time to squeeze what all happens in what seems like a 48-hour day into one 24-hour segment with just enough time to rest somewhere in between. That is what I am trying to do now. So here goes. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#28 September 3, 2010, COP Turbett, Afghanistan

Two patrols on 02 Sept, plus, cleaning up on 01 September


It is now Friday, September 3, 2010 here at COP Turbett. I find myself constantly trying to catch up on things, organize up my gear and somehow get clean and have clothes washed, just to be able to stay prepare d for each day’s events. A lot of things happen just being here and lots of things go on in our surrounding area that I only hear about second hand. Playing catch up on the writing end of things keeps me somewhat sharp in my mind and is similar to exercise for the physical body. Today is turning out to be one of those days. Let’s go back to Wednesday, September 1. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#27 August 30 & 31, 2010 COP Turbett


August 30 and 31, 2010 COP Turbett… I woke up on the morning of August 30 realizing I had accomplished so far quite a bit of what I had set out to do. That being mostly just arriving at COP Turbett and seeing my friends Sgt. Jimmy Bernard and Cpl. Sam Dillon. I knew now that the rest of the journey would pretty much be icing on the cake. Just to have gotten to this point took a major effort on a lot people’s parts and a bit of a toll on my being. All of it was well worth it and I felt a bit of burden released off my shoulders. Now, the work would begin and I would give it my best shot for this indeed would be my last journey…. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#26 August 29-B

August 29 Part B, 2010 COP Turbett, Afghanistan… I arrived at COP Turbett well before noon on August 29th. The ride over took less than an hour and covered all of a couple miles. The road was actually ditch bank roads similar to what I know in New Mexico. I rode in an up armored MRAP. I sat in the back seat nearest the door with all my gear. Peering out the small window I could begin to catch a glimpse of the country I had only seen from FOB to FOB. Now, I was out in the countryside, yet still within the confines a large military vehicle designed to absorb the blast of an improvised explosive device… ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey
COP Turbett, Afghanistan


August 29 Morning, 2010 COP Turbett, Afghanistan… It was Sunday, again, in Afghanistan yesterday. I always enjoy Sundays. It just is a time to catch up on things. There has been so much going on to keep me busy in the past several days that only now can I have the opportunity to fill in all the gaps before it all runs together and just becomes a memory subject to changes. That is what I am going to do now, try to fill in the blanks from all that has led up to put me exactly where I am at this moment. Right where I’ve been trying to get for what seems like an eternity…. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


Jim has been imbedded with the marines and has not had email access since doing so. He has been calling his wife about every other day. She says “He loves where he is and what he is doing.  I can read between the lines that there is a lot of action.  O Lord Jesus, cover him and keep him safe and healthy.”

Please keep all our military in your prayers!!
(Web Editor)


The Last Journey

#24 “Some Say...”


26 August 2010, Camp Dwyer, Helmund province, Afghanistan… Thursday and still at camp Dwyer. The air is clearing and some flights are on. But there is a backlog. More waiting. More time to read and chat with folks. More information. More decisions about what to think about things. It is the part I don't like to do. Think. Keeping things simple has always been my excuse for not having to think hard about many things. It is a survival method for me of sorts developed over the course of many years now. So many people ask me, “so what are you doing here and why? Whom do you work for? Where are you published?” and so on and so on. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#23 “Dusty”


24 August 2010 Camp Dwyer, Helmund province, AfghanistanThe dust storm continues. I've seen this type of thing before in Iraq and it could last for days. At the moment, I am grounded here at Camp Dwyer until this dust storm subsides. On the brighter side, it is not as hot as it usually is giving all of us here a bit of a break from the oppressive heat. In my tent, things are just fine, air conditioning works great, even too good. The cot I am on is fine and I was able to get a shower this morning. So, I will figure out today as I always do. One moment at a time. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#22 “Page Two”


23 August 2010, Camp Dwyer, Helmund province Afghanistan… After much traveling, I have arrived among the United States Marine Corps in Helmund province, Afghanistan. It is worth the wait. After several attempts, I was able to secure a seat, space available, 22 August, on a C-130 leaving Bagram Air Field for Kandahar. It took me a few trips back and forth to the passenger terminal, with all my gear, but eventually, somehow, I got on a flight. It was a welcomed sight. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#21 “In Good Company”


20 August 2010, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan… Today I am in Bagram. It is August 20th. It is my birthday. It’s been a bit of an ordeal in the past 24-hours. I knew that leaving Salerno would be more than a headache. It was and continues to be. It’s just part of how it is in this place. ---Click for Rest of Story ---

The Last Journey

#20 “Soup’s On!”


19 August 2010 Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan

Once in a while there are folks that are really hidden in their professions but known on a daily basis by everyone, usually three times a day, and often more than that. This is one of those stories that I feel I have to do because it directly affected me, every single day I was at FOB Boris. ---Click for Rest of Story --


The Last Journey

#19 “Helicopter Rides”


18 August 2010 Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan

In 1992, while living on the Big Island of Hawaii, I met a man that owned a helicopter company in Hilo, Hawaii. I was looking to get my younger son Jimmy, a ride on a helicopter for his birthday. ---Click for Rest of Story --


The Last Journey

#18 “Relocating”


17 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan… It’s Tuesday morning and it started out clearer than most days, but seems to be clouding up a bit. I will soon begin to move in the direction of linking up with the USMC now in the south part of the country. Getting there will be arduous but have to make the move soon to stay on the schedule allotted to me… ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#17 “It’s Complicated”


14 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan… As a young kid, I recall spending my fair share of time in the principle’s office. It wasn’t that I really did anything all that wrong rather it was usually due to some remarks that I made from time to time that seemed to land me in the hot seat. As an adult, that did not change all that much. These days, it just… ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#16 “Cinch Strap”


13 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, AfghanistanI had a good horse when I was a kid. I grew up out in the desert of New Mexico and learned a bit about good horses. Putting a saddle on was a task that required doing things a certain way. My horse was very powerful. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#15 “Faces and Voices of Eastern Afghanistan


10 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan… It only rained once today, but it was a bit of a downpour. I’ve been on the FOB the whole time I’ve been here. No one has gone out. I don’t have a whole lot more time scheduled here but we’ll see what the days ahead bring. I have kept myself quite busy. There was plenty today to keep up on. The rain subsided enough to make me think it could possibly clear up, but I tend to believe that is mostly hopeful thinking. In any event, I enjoy being here. . ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#14 “Listen Up”


09 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan… I have ten grandchildren. There is one that I have my eyes on lately that has my attention. His name is Jesse. He is the oldest of the triplets. He is named after his uncle, my son, Jesse, who was a Marine and went to be with the Lord in 2001. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#13 “Obstacles and Improvising”


08 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan… It is Sunday, again. No matter where I am on the planet, no matter what I am doing at any given time, it seems as though Sunday is always the one day I know what the date is. Things are just different on Sundays, in a good way. I get caught up on these kind of days. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#12 “Bandit Country”


07 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Boris, Afghanistan… I have arrived at my final, first destination. It is simply amazing that I made it after all this time. Let me say from the onset in this writing, it was well worth the waiting. The moment I stepped onto land here at FOB Boris, I knew this is where I’m supposed to be. This is “Bandit Country”. I am with very good people here. This is the infantry. This is 1-187. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#11 “Always Working”


05 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, Thursday, 1615 hrs… The rain has stopped, at least for now. The weather is hot and muggy, partly cloudy. I’ve been told that tomorrow I am scheduled for a flight, but will not know until later this evening what the real status is. One thing is for sure, I’m still at Salerno and everything is for sure a definite maybe. That is what these journeys entail sometimes. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#10 “A Word is Worth a Thousand Pictures”


04 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan… It’s Wednesday, August 4, 2010. I’ve been on the go since July 21st and I’m still not at my final, first destination. Weather has played a major role in this part of the delay. It has been raining off and on for three days and the area I’m trying to get to is not accessible via helicopter in such inclement weather. Word is that clearing may be on the horizon. ----- Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#9 “Rainy Day Monday”


02 August 2010 Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan… it’s late in the afternoon around 1730 (5:30 PM) local time. I’ve been taking care of some writings and reconfirming with my POC’s (points of contact) about my flight out of here tomorrow. --- Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#8 “Simply Salerno


01 August 2010, Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, Sunday evening…It is dark now and all the outside lights are off. It’s been a very long day and I’m short on rest. But I must write to keep the mind in good working order. It is an exercise that must be maintained every day. I am now at what is simply called, “Salerno”. I like it here. A lot. --- Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#7 “Old Friends”


31 July 2010, Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, 2030 hrs, Saturday evening…One of my favorite songs of all times is by three artists that I really enjoyed listening to over the years. Willie Nelson, Ray Price and Roger Miller. Some years ago, before Roger Miller passed away, he and Willie and Ray recorded a song called, “Old Friends”. My son Jesse used to love that song. Every time I hear it, good memories are rekindled in my being. I can still hear the song playing in my head. --- Click for Rest of Story ---



The Last Journey

#6 “Pushing Forward”


31 July 2010, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, 1145 hrs, Saturday…The journey is beginning to take shape. I left home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at 0430 hrs in the morning, Wednesday, July 21, 2010. Today is ten days later and what seems like a million miles ago. Bagram is where things for me begin to come into focus. ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#5 a&b...First Impressions


29 July 2010, Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, 1600 hrs, Thursday….

It’s amazing how once in the war zone, familiar things come right up front and center, no matter how long it’s been. Landing at Kandahar late at night there was this sense come over me which was, “ok, what have I gotten myself into this time.” ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#4 Destination Afghanistan


28 July 2010, 2000 hrs Europe Time, in a C-5 Airplane somewhere over Asia….

Like most people living in the USA prior to 2001, I did not know very much about a place called Afghanistan. On September 11 of that same year, I began to hear about this place called Afghanistan and at that time determined that one day I would go there. ---Click for Rest of Story ---

The Last Journey

#3 “The Pax-Men”


July 26, 2010...Ramstein Air Base, pax terminal…

In years past, I spent quite some time working ground operations for a very large helicopter company in Hawaii. I obtained that job in 1992 and started in Hilo, Hawaii, at the international airport there. In short, my job was to take care of passengers on and off the aircraft as well as coordinating their flights. It was a very demanding job … ---Click for Rest of Story ---

The Last Journey

#2 Traveling Light


24 July 2010, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. “I love it when a plan comes together”.
I remember that line by George Pepard aka,
Hannibal, in the TV show A-Team. When my kids were little, back in the mid 80’s, that show was pretty much required viewing in the Spiri household… ---Click for Rest of Story ---


The Last Journey

#1 Running on Empty


Jim Spiri 22 July 2010, Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Thursday morning

For those of you that know me, most of you will not be surprised that I’m on the go one more time. Destination…Afghanistan. For those of you that are just reading me for the first time, hang on, buckle up and get used to reading the day to day stories of the life of a combat photographer/war correspondent, old school style…. ---Click for Rest of Story ---



(Audio Files Link to be here: Coming Soon!)


Keep Checking Back for Jim’s Latest – “The Last Journey”



Jim Spiri-International freelance and independent photo-journalist/historian.

Jim Spiri, 54, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is currently at home in Albuquerque, New Mexico preparing for a return trip back to the war zone in Iraq. He has been traveling in and out of theatre there, in a variety of capacities, since January of 2004. Most recently, he completed a six month embed from May 2009 to October 2007 with the USMC and the US Army. He covered extensively events in Fallujah, Mosul, Taji and the southeast part of Baghdad, as well as other areas of Iraq. His work was published on a daily basis in blog form with the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper at the on line version at: http://blogs.phillynews.com/philly/spiri/ which still can be accessed by clicking on the address listed above.


Spiri, who has quite a history of international travel, is a unique individual who has managed to press forward in the midst of personal tragedy, adversity and a sincere desire to support the troops in such a fashion that has gained him much respect among the military community. Known as a true patriot, Spiri, who was also instrumental in the passing of a bill in Congress addressing military medical health care coverage for newly commissioned officers, has the tenacity of a bulldog when the record needs to be straight.

Married at age 18, to his wife Candi (who was 17 at the time) has been married for the past 34 years. The two were blessed with four children, Melain, Jesse, Jimmy and Moriah, two boys and two girls, and raised them in a variety of locations around the globe. Both sons attended New Mexico Military Institute for their first two years of college and then proceeded to pursue careers in the military. The girls went on to attain careers where the oldest one, Melain, became a school teacher and the youngest one, Moriah became a nurse. The Spiri’s now have been blessed with six grandchildren. Life has been good, but in 2001 tragedy struck and changed their lives forever, but through the suffering the family found a way to turn tragedy into triumph in true American fashion, with a firm testing of their faith in the Lord Jesus. It is with this faith that the Spiri Family continues to press on.

Photo: Jim Spiri Sr, Jimmy Spiri Jr, James Spiri III, Jesse Spiri

And Jacob Spiri.


In May of 2001, their oldest son, Jesse, was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the USMC, after completing a four year degree at Western New Mexico University, in Silver City, NM. Shortly thereafter, Jesse was stricken with what was determined to be brain cancer and subsequently passed away on July 7, 2001. At the onset of the illness, Jesse was admitted to UNM hospital under Tri-Care, the health care coverage for all military personnel. Shortly after emergency brain surgery, Tri-Care balked and decided not to cover the newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Within 48 hours of brain surgery, Jesse was discharged from the hospital and left to fend for himself for medical care. He had no insurance and the family rushed to find a way to get him treatment. Tri-Care determined that a “gray area” as far as coverage was concerned caused a hesitation in treatment. The Spiri family went public with the dilemma, but to no avail. Jesse died on July 7, a mere 56 days after being discharged. Life would never be the same for the Spiri family.


Jim Spiri took this tragedy hard, but pressed his Senator, Pete Domenici (R-NM), until eventually in November of 2003, a bill in Congress was passed called, “The 2nd Lt., Jesse James Spiri, Military Medical Coverage Act of 2004”, which closed the so-called loophole that Tri-Care balked on, thus relieving any future family the pain and suffering that the Spiri family experienced. Following the final words of his son Jesse, which were, “Lord Jesus, make me an Overcomer”, Jim Spiri decided to pursue a life in full support of all American troops from that point on. This is what has driven Jim Spiri to “Support the Troops” in earnest, in what we now call, “The War in Iraq”.


It was while being present at the United States Senate, as an invited guest during the passing of the bill in Congress, that Jim Spiri decided that from that point on, his life would never be the same and the experience of one man following his patriotic duty, can and did make a difference. At that point in time, Spiri determined to find a way to continue on a positive footing to support in whatever capacity he could, the troops who were now engaged in a global war on terrorism. In January of 2004, Spiri obtained employment at Camp Anaconda, near Balad, Iraq, as a flight line passenger representative, putting to use his skills in ground aviation to work in full support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During that time, he was present and assisted in the loading of over 12,000 wounded soldiers and voluntarily offered his services as a photo-historian and produced a photographic historical archive for the 31st combat Support Hospital which handled the majority of wounded US soldiers in Iraq. It was at this time Spiri found much grace to lend healing to his own suffering.


By the summer of 2005, Spiri’s wife, Candi, joined him and worked in helicopter manifesting as a US Army contractor. Together, the two continued their work in supporting the troops until March of 2006, at which time they returned to their home in New Mexico. During their time in country, the Spiri’s were invited guests of honor to Baghdad in November of 2005 for the November 10th birthday celebration of the USMC.  At that time, Jim Spiri began to inquire with the USMC about becoming an embedded photographer. It would be a process that would take much time. After returning home to New Mexico in March of 2006, the Spiri’s made a plan that would coordinate their next journey to coincide with the deployment of their younger son, Jimmy, who is a CH47 helicopter pilot in the US Army. Their younger son would deploy once again (his fourth time) in September of 2006. Jim and Candi Spiri obtained employment in Kuwait in September of 2006 at Al-Mubarak Air Base, as US Air Force contractors, where Candi worked in passenger’s services and Jim worked in cargo. Together, they would be able to be in theatre at the same time their own son was deployed. Once again in November of 2006, the Spiri’s were invited by the USMC as honored guests for the birthday on the 10th, and it was at this time that Jim made a strong move to embed with the USMC in Anbar province. This time, it would come to pass.


In years past, Jim and Candi Spiri both were freelance photographers and covered the war in the late 1980’s in El Salvador. By 1992, a book was produced in both English and Spanish, by Jim and Candi Spiri, titled, “In the Beginning…El Salvador”. It was a black and white photo-documentary depicting life in the war zone of El Salvador during the years 1987-89. It received many positive reviews and is still available upon request.



November 11, 2009 Veteran’s Day Story

Today is Veteran’s Day, 2009.  Each year I try to find a veteran and share a piece of history with those readers that follow my writings.  This year I had to look no further than two doors down the street where I live.  This is a brief story about my neighbor, Lt. Commander Irene M. Young, USN (ret).  --- Click for Rest of Story ---


November 11, 2009 Fort Hood Story

It is a few days since the tragedy at Ft. Hood, Texas took place. There are no words that will comfort those grieving. There are only prayers we can offer to those who have suffered loss of a loved one and for those wounded struggling for recovery. My son is stationed at Ft. Hood, when stateside. ---Click Rest of Story ---






By the spring of 2007, Jim took permanent leave of absence and embarked on a six month embed with the USMC in Anbar province and Nineveh province in Iraq. The journey was done for free and without any outside financial support. The Philadelphia Inquirer Newspaper caught wind of his journey and produced a front page article on his adventures. It was shortly thereafter that a blog was begun and has since gained an immense following. During the journey, Spiri was able to fulfill a life-long desire to accompany his son on combat missions. Father and son working together in the war zone while at the same time supporting the rest of America’s sons and daughters who were also in the war zone. The blog became a way of linking the troops to the families on the home front and detailing day to day combat operations in a fashion that followed in the footsteps of famed historians of wars past, Matthew Brady, Ernie Pyle and Joe Galloway. Jim Spiri had found a way to support the troops and convey to America the professionalism of America’s sons and daughters in harm’s way.

Spiri with Lt. Gen Ray Odierno in Mosul, Iraq, 2007.




By October of 2007, the journey for the Spiri’s had come to a close and both returned home to New Mexico. In recent weeks Spiri has attended homecoming celebrations for soldiers from Fort Bliss, TX and documented in full circle the end of a long deployment of fellow comrades who have become as family. One mission is now complete.


In 2008, Jim volunteered and was invited to be Senator John McCain’s personal photographer during the Presidential primaries and subsequent campaign in South Carolina and New Mexico.

Jim Spiri with Senator John McCain in New Mexico, 2008.



Now, Jim Spiri is planning a follow-up journey. His intention is to seek support from the heartbeat of America who wants to become a part of the next journey. The war continues with much positive progress going unreported at this time. Spiri is able to convey in a unique fashion that strengthens not only the individual soldier and marine, but at the same time strengthen the home front and open a way to allow those at home to support where before a way was not available.


Spiri has made a way for contributors to receive something from the past, in order to continue to report the current. For contributions of $20, each person will receive an autographed copy of Spiri’s first book, “In the Beginning…El Salvador”. For contributions of $40, each person will receive a copy of the book plus a CD of recent photos from Iraq depicting day to day operations among USMC or US Army Patrols.


The Captains Journal, a highly respected military blog, is proud to feature Jim Spiri as one of its guest bloggers. For more information you can contact Jim Spiri at: jimspiri@yahoo.com or call him personally at any time at: 505.898.1680. He welcomes all contact and personally responds to each and every inquiry.



My Philly News Blog

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Fallujah, Iraq, June 2007

Memorial Day 2009, in honor of 2nd Lt. Jesse James Spiri, USMC


Contact: jimspiri@yahoo.com

All photo’s and Website 2012 Jim Spiri, All Rights Reserved