MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, CA -- Marine Corps Staff Sgt.
Matthew L. Slade is not a professional photographer. If he wanted to
take a photo three months ago, he used his cell phone. Despite no
prior formal photography training, Slade now looks every bit the
professional as he walks up and down San Onofre Beach with a tripod
and camera in hand, crouching in the sand and looking to capture the
Slade is a wounded warrior and student of Wounded
Warrior Battalion West's photography class, called "fStop."
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Matthew L. Slade photographs Operation Amped surfers on San Onofre Beach, Calif., August 21.
2015. Slade is a wounded warrior and student of Wounded Warrior Battalion West's "fStop" photography class. The class supports wounded warriors' recovery and transition through creative self-expression using the art of digital photography. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Asia J. Sorenson)
“fStop is a group of men and women who are learning to
become amateur photographers at Wounded Warrior Battalion,”
Slade said. “It teaches a different way to cope with our
Slade recently had the opportunity
to practice the skills he learned in fStop during Operation
Amped, an annual weekend surfing event open to Wounded
Warriors and their families. Operation Amped's mission is to
share the surfing community and the healing potential of
surfing with seriously ill, injured, or disabled U.S.
military veterans and their families.
“I just wanted
to take photos originally, because I thought that was cool,”
Slade said. “But I've really become interested in it, and
it's become a really important hobby for me.”
a former Marine recruiter, said he's found more than just a
“It's a lot of great people doing fun stuff,”
he said. “It's like a family. It offers a group that knows
you and gets you, and we take photos together.”
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Hugo L. Gonzalez is another student
Marine Corps Master Sgt. Hugo L. Gonzalez surfs with Operation Amped at San Onofre Beach, Calif., August 21,
2015. Operation Amped, an annual surfing event open to Wounded Warriors and their families, aims to share the healing potential of surfing with seriously ill, injured, or disabled U.S. military veterans and their families. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Asia J. Sorenson)
“I was taking photos for a long time, but I never actually knew
the ins and outs of a camera, how to operate it,” Gonzalez said. “I
think it's another way to help out, for those of us who enjoy taking
photos, getting out there and shooting. I find it's therapeutic, a
different way to cope with whatever is going on. Photography works
Photography isn't the only hobby that works for
Gonzalez, he said. On the beach, he's a surfer.
surfing for about two months now,” Gonzalez said. “I started with
the Jimmy Miller Foundation, they come to the battalion every two
weeks, taking us out to Del Mar Beach and teaching us to paddle and
Where fStop gives him a chance to
enjoy photography, Operation Amped gave Gonzalez an opportunity to
explore surfing with a weekend on the beach and lessons from
“Just being around the ocean is very
therapeutic,” said Gonzales. “As a kid I grew up around the ocean
and now being near it just makes me feel a lot better.”
Gonzalez, a motor transport operator, said he's found many
opportunities to stay active while healing from his injury.
“I wish I could clone myself because there is so much offered at the
battalion,” Gonzalez said. “I try to take part in everything, but I
also don't want to take it away from the Marines. I try to make sure
all the junior Marines get a chance to participate, and if there's
anything left, I volunteer for it.”
Once Slade was done
shooting for the day, Gonzalez suggested he come back the next day
and learn to surf.
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Asia J. Sorenson
DOD News / Defense Media Activity
The U.S. Marines
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