NPPA's Stacy Pearsall: On Combat, On The New York Times Front Page

Photojournalist Stacy Pearsall's story, atop the front page of today's New York Times
Photojournalist Stacy Pearsall's story, atop the front page of today's New York Times

Photojournalist and NPPA member Stacy Pearsall is front and center atop The New York Times front page this morning, right under the legendary masthead, in a story about the Secretary of Defense opening the doors for women to be deployed in direct combat.

Which isn't all that much news to Pearsall, who's already been in full combat and was awarded the Bronze Star for her courage in battle in Baquba during her second deployment in Iraq, where she was also wounded.

Pearsall, who's been featured previously in NPPA's News Photographer magazine, started as an Air Force photographer when she was 17. She's one of only two women to win the NPPA Military Photographer of the Year contest, and the only woman to have won it twice.

Today's story in the Times clearly illustrates how the military has been functioning with women in combat already, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how the branches of the armed services would have been severely compromised in their ability to operate in both wars were it not for the crucial roles already played by women. The article, "When the bullets flew, 'They Didn't Care That I Was A Woman'" by James Dao,  also examines the difference between "incidental" combat and "direct" combat, and whether moving the role of women into "direct" combat will make it more likely that the military can target and defeat an enemy.

And as Dexter Filkins reported today in The New Yorker magazine, more than 130 women serving in America's military have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more than 800 wounded, before yesterday's Pentagon decision.

Since her medical retirement from the military in 2008 due to her war wounds, she and her husband - former Air Force photographer Andy Dunaway - are based in Charleston, SC, where they operate the Charleston Center for Photography.

Stacy Pearsall in combat