ISR Airman highlighted in Portraits in Courage
By Marge McGlinn, 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing
/ Published October 20, 2011
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va --
Senior Airman Chanise Epps, photographer for the 9th Intelligence Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., is one of 18 Airmen featured in the latest series of Portraits in Courage.
Epps' story of 'bravery' and 'daring' is the stuff of an action-adventure film, except her weapon was a camera instead of a firearm.
When her forward operating base came under small arms fire and mortar attack Epps used her camera to capture images of the battle lasting more than three hours.
"The battle lasted three hours," said Epps, "but the first two hours were the worst because of the numerous small arms fire and mortars shot at us. Throughout the whole battle, I photographed from beginning to end."
Epps positioned herself in an abandoned and dangerous fighting position taking over 600 images of the base defense and firefighting efforts. With mortar attacks overhead and fires burning all around her, she continued to capture accurate and compelling photos of the destruction during the entire length of the conflict.
Even though she is one of only a chosen few who are commended in the booklet for putting her life at risk, Epps still thinks she was just trying to do her best at her job.
"I'm honored that my story can be among 17 other Warrior's stories," said Epps. "I feel as though I did my job to the best of my ability and that's all I could really ask of myself."
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz announced Sept. 20 the release of the latest Portraits of Courage volume during an address at the Air Force Association's 2011 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition at National Harbor, Md.
"Although they represent only a small cross-section of our Air Force, these Airmen exemplify the character of our citizens who answer the call of duty by volunteering to serve our Nation in a time of conflict. Because valor has no expiration date and courage is timeless, it is our hope that these stories will inspire future generations of men and women to also undertake noble service to our country," said Schwartz.
Lt .Col Tracy Ward, commander, 9th Intelligence Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, Calif. was in the audience with Epps when Schwartz announced the release of Portraits in Courage Vl and realized that Epps was one of the Airmen featured.
"I couldn't be more proud or SrA Epps," said Ward. "Her courage under fire and commitment to her Team exemplifies Air Force Core Values and personifies the Airmen's Creed".
The images that Epps was able to capture gave FOB leaders near-real time battle damage assessment, the information required to adjust offensive and defensive measures, and evidence later used in the prosecution of captured insurgents.
Epps received the Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal and the Army Combat Action Badge for exceptional professionalism with her camera in the midst of the base attack.
The Navy and Marine Corp Achievement Medal is awarded for service exceeding what is normally expected and that is an important contribution to the United States and the naval service. The Army Combat Action Badge can be awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces for performing duties when present and actively engaged by the enemy or in an area where hostile fire pay or imminent danger pay is authorized.