State Department Art Exhibit Features Service Members’ Imagery

In commemoration of Veterans Day, the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Art in Embassies (AIE) and the U.S. Department of Defense proudly announce the 12 “Best in Show” featured in AIE’s 50th anniversary “Serving Abroad…Through Their Eyes” photography exhibition.

A U.S. soldier hitches a ride on a donkey-drawn cart with teenage boys. Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young

Hitchin’ A Ride. Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young

A year ago on Veterans Day, Military, Civil Service and Foreign Service personnel were invited to submit photographs illustrating their life while serving abroad. More than 3,200 images were submitted, from which 161 finalists were chosen; ultimately, the 12 “Best in Show” were identified.

These photographs, selected by a panel of distinguished photo-journalists, depict themes of friendship, places, faces, loss or triumph, providing a window on the complexity, diversity and courageous work performed by America’s heroes throughout the world.

The “Best in Show” images were juried by a panel that included two former Secretaries of State: Madeline Albright and Colin Powell; three former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs: General Richard Myers, General Peter Pace and Admiral Mike Mullen; and NBC News’ David Gregory.

The “Best in Show” photographers are listed below:

    • Benjamin Altenes of Utah, a Diplomatic Security Officer with the Department of State
    • Harold Bonacquist of Virginia, a Desk Officer with the Department of State
    • U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Francisco V. Govea II of March Air Force Base, Calif.
    • Jonathan Paul Howard of Virginia, a Deputy Press Attaché with the Department of State
    • Alda Kauffeld of Virginia, a DOC Specialist with USAID, currently stationed in Accra, Ghana
    • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika of the Tennessee National Guard
    • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Chad D. Nelson of the Iowa National Guard
    • U.S. Army Capt., John Rutledge of Fort Drum, N.Y.
    • Former U.S. Army Sgt. Monica K. Smith of Kentucky
    • U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Joshua Strang of Fort Meade, Md.
    • U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Alvin Williams Jr, of Virginia, stationed in the United States
    • U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. Cohen A. Young, of Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

The images will be displayed from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. on the Verizon Center’s video marquee 7th street in Washington, D.C., on November 28, 29, and 30. The images can also be viewed in an online gallery at

Lincoln Schatz, celebrated video artist, created a video artwork incorporating the “Serving Abroad…Through Their Eyes” images that will be on display at the U.S. Department of State on November 30, and ultimately installed as a part of the new U.S. Embassy’s permanent art collection in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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