A Soldier Who Documented Lives In Conflict When Cpl. Jason Bogar was killed in action in Afghanistan, he left behind a family in Seattle — and a wide-ranging record of his tours of duty. Bogar took numerous photos and videos of families he met in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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A Soldier Who Documented Lives In Conflict

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A Soldier Who Documented Lives In Conflict

A Soldier Who Documented Lives In Conflict

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And let's take a moment this morning to remember an American killed on an especially deadly day in Afghanistan. The day was July 13th. That's the day that about 200 Taliban fighters breached a NATO compound in Afghanistan. Nine U.S. soldiers were killed. One of the soldiers who was killed that day was Corporal Jason Bogar from Seattle. He was 25. From member station KUOW, Ann Dornfeld prepared this remembrance.

Unidentified Woman: Oh wow. Look at that one.

ANN DORNFELD: Jason Bogar's family is flipping through photos he sent home from his three tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. But most of these aren't of Jason. They're portraits of Afghan children. Eyes rimmed black with coal stare right into yours. Women peer suspiciously through jewel-colored headscarves. A baby clutches a fistful of his mother's pleated burqa in his dimpled fist.

Mr. MICHAEL BOGAR (Father): This is the razor wire that they put around the encampment, and then two women in their burqas, almost like blue ghosts, you know. As he talked to my ex-wife, he said that he felt like, you know, sometimes he would see the women there and think that it seemed like they were in bondage.

DORNFELD: Michael Bogar is Jason's father. He's an interdenominational minister. He says Jason was always artistic, but he was unfocused and getting into trouble as a teenager.

Jason enlisted when he was 17. He went to basic training right before September 11th. Jason discovered photography during his first tour in Baghdad in 2003. After he got home, he volunteered twice to go to Afghanistan.

Mr. BOGAR: There's an e-mail here, it's the second-to-the-last one he sent, from June 1st, 2008. Let's see: I really feel this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Some of the guys call me an idealist. But I do respect and want to help the little good that's left amongst this culture.

DORNFELD: Stephanie Bell was a sort of stepmom to Jason; she was his dad's partner for five years. She says Jason expanded from still photography to videography, even wearing a helmet-cam on his patrols. He played them videos of what war really looks like.

Ms. STEPHANIE BELL (Stepmom): One thing that sticks in my mind was his joy of showing his work. Being able to create something beautiful and also say something at the same time and explain his work and have it seen.

DORNFELD: Stephanie says as serious as Jason was about the military and his art, he could still act like a rambunctious kid.

Ms. BELL: So he would jump up behind me and scare me, and then I mean I would get upset when he would do that. And then, you know, you can't stay mad at him for very long. He would have me in laughter within a few seconds.

DORNFELD: Before Jason's last deployment, Michael had been reading about what was happening in Afghanistan, how the Taliban were regaining strength in Pakistan. They talked about it in the backyard right before he left.

Mr. BOGAR: And I gave him a big hug and said, Jason, I don't want you to go, and started weeping. And he kind of looked at me a little bit frightened, like he would do, concerned, and he said, You OK? And I said, No, I'm not OK. I said, I'm really, really, really sad. And he smiled and he said, Well, I guess that's a good thing, and gave me this beautiful smile, like, that means you love me, doesn't it, Dad? And it's like, yeah. Yeah.

DORNFELD: Michael says Jason had started to enroll in art school. He wanted to travel the world, capturing stories of the cultures he encountered on film.

For NPR News, I'm Ann Dornfeld in Seattle.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: I'm looking here at Corporal Bogar's photographs, including photographs of children taken overseas. You can see them at our Web site, npr.org.

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