It keeps pounding all night. The walls shake. It’s outgoing artillery. Following each blast the shell gently whistles and fades falling into the black landscape of my mind.
There is blood on my boots. The wind from the helicopter gusts over the shredded bodies in the cabin, blowing drops of blood around the bird. I smell the blood, day after day.
I see broken bodies and broken lives. Bleeding bandage-soaked stumps where there were once feet. Their eyes look to yours and you are helpless.
Killing, cruelty, confusion, inhumanity and exhaustion to tears. Leaves you feeling numb, destroyed. Over time you don’t quite understand who you are anymore. This is war.
Then it stops. Back home you no longer are or feel whole. Wounded now, forever. Scars develop and you spend the rest of your life trying to comprehend them. They run so deep that you return to the conflict night after night in your sleep.
They are dark and blurred memories now. This is where all the crushing weight of the war catches up to you, not on the battlefield, but when you are home, echoes of the guns and screams living in your head. Your own personal war has just begun. When I was with the soldiers they seemed to have aged a lifetime over there. I now feel 1000-years-old.
Perhaps what seemed most compelling is the search for that missing part of themselves, physical, emotional or psychological. It could be their legs or simply their souls looking to fill the crushing void left like a gaping wound in their hearts for the rest of their lives.
Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Aftermath America, the home front.
Louie's work has appeared in numerous books, catalogues, festivals and exhibitions internationally, which includes being selected for the photojournalism festival Visa Pour L'Image in Perpignan, France five times.
Louie is the recipient of numerous awards including a Hasselblad Master Award and a Best of Photojournalism Award from the National Press Photographers Association in 2008, a Silver Medal from the Society of Newspaper Design for photography, Canadian Association of Journalism's award for photojournalism. In 2006 he was selected for Wright State Universities Photography Now: one hundred portfolios, as one of a 100 photographers included in an international survey of photography, which was juried by curators from Europe, Japan and the United States.
Louie's work is included in numerous private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery of Canada, The Library and Archives of Canada, The Canadian Museum of Civilization, Portland Art Museum and George Eastman House International Museum of Film and Photography. His work has appeared in numerous print and web publications including Newsweek, Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, NPR and The Globe and Mail.