ATHENS, Ga. -- It was the middle of the night when David Marck and his troop of U.S. Army soldiers landed in Afghan-istan. They formed a single-file line, careful to stay on the concrete because they did not know where the landmines might be.
Marck, who had enlisted in the Army's 314th Press Camp as a photographer and public affairs specialist, was surprised by a beautiful rose garden in the Kandahar International Airport -- a bright patch in an otherwise dark and dirty and dilapidated structure.
It was November 2001, just two months after the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Marck, now a 22-year-old University of Georgia undergraduate, said he was "too stupid to be scared.''
"We were one of the first Army units in Kandahar,'' he said. "We were looking for the last remaining large groups of Taliban.''
Marck, whose Army training included a four-month "fast and furious'' tutorial of photography and journalism, met Joe Raedle, a Getty Images photographer, in Afghanistan. Raedle decided to post Marck's pictures on the wire -- a move that catapulted Marck's pictures to media outlets around the country, and then to the cover of Time magazine and a two-page spread in Time magazine's "Best Photos of 2002.''
"Raedle looked at the pictures, said, 'I want to put some of these out on the wire,' and the next thing I knew, it was on the cover of Time,'" said Marck.
In March, Time magazine used Marck's photograph of a U.S. soldier resting with a large gun on its cover. And the 22-year-old's photo of soldiers of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division at the onset of Operation Anaconda, the offensive against al-Qaida and Taliban fighters hiding in Afghanistan's mountains, is featured in a two-page spread in Time's "The Best Photos of the Year'' special edition.
Jim Virga, a photojournalism professor at UGA and a friend of Raedle, proved instrumental in wooing Marck to UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications, and away from Auburn, where he was set to return as a mass communications major.
"I love the fact that he could bring that experience into the classroom,'' Virga said. "...You need a lot of confidence to do this job, and a lot of professional photographers work for 10 or 15 years and never have a double truck (two-page spread) in Time magazine.''
Marck is proud of his photography, but attributes some of the success to being at the right place at the right time. He feels like the "bar has been raised,'' and is even a little nervous to start shooting pictures for the Red and Black, the independent student-run newspaper at UGA.
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