Amy Forsythe has traveled to some of the most remote regions in the world, documenting the courage of service members over the course of her 30-year military career.
Forsythe, a military combat photographer, served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. During these missions, she was uniquely positioned to capture historic military moments that have altered the trajectory of the world.
“You have a front-row seat to history,” Forsythe said of being a combat photographer. “You are in the middle of everything and can advise and shape the information space. I took one of the original photos of [the U.S.] signing the agreement that [the U.S.] would leave Iraq. This was in Ramadi, Iraq, one of the toughest places of the battles in Iraq.”
In addition to documenting combat, Forsythe has covered numerous operations that allowed her to highlight military exercises, relationship-building and threats.
“I love opportunities to showcase how we’re making a difference in places like Palau, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore,” said Forsythe, who first served as an enlisted active-duty Marine combat correspondent and then as a Navy Reserve public affairs officer.
Acutely aware that a picture can tell a thousand words, Forsythe confirms, “just having a camera in my hand, I knew I could make a difference by documenting some of these historical events.”
“Then showing the world the courage it takes to serve has been [my] passion and honor for over 30 years, and that’s the highlight of my career,” she said.
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Forsythe’s multimedia work has been featured across various outlets and garnered multiple awards. Her career accomplishments lie in stark contrast to her humble beginnings in Santa Rosa, California. Growing up in a small town, she said she was eager to move away – and joining the Marines was the only thing she wanted to do.
Determined to join the military, partly because she grew up in the shadows of the Vietnam War and because her grandfather was a Marine and her grandmother was an Army nurse, Forsythe maintained an openness to future opportunities.
“I had no idea what doors would open or what path they could lead to, so I just let things happen,” she said. “I was always open to assignments, overseas deployments and volunteering to do things.”
Her commitment paid off.
In 2022, Forsythe’s book ‘‘Heroes Live Here: A Tribute to Camp Pendleton Marines Since 9/11” landed on bookstore shelves. After returning from deployment and traveling to Camp Pendleton daily for work, she said she noticed the plethora of memorials and tributes “from the past 20 years [of war].”
“I thought, ‘Gold Star families or fellow Marines who haven’t been back to the base don’t know about these nice tributes to fallen [service members] from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,’” Forsythe said.
As she worked to inform about the past, Forsythe wanted her book to help the veterans of that era more directly. She partnered with the Semper Fi and America’s fund, a nonprofit organization that provides “bedside support to those wounded and injured while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Forsythe said that “after one year of having released the book, I’m going to donate [10% of my annual proceeds] to the local organization here [in California].”
Almost a year after her book was released, San Diego County wanted to recognize Forsythe’s decades-long work of sharing and preserving stories of the military community. On March 18, she was inducted into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame in the “historian” category. As one of six women in this year’s induction cohort, Forsythe joins more than 100 women, including Congresswoman Susan Davis, in the Women’s Hall of Fame.
Looking ahead, Forsythe plans to promote her book at Warwick’s, the country’s oldest family-owned and operated bookstore in La Jolla, California on April 9. She also plans to continue her naval career for another three years.
“I will continue serving until they tell me it’s time to stop,” Forsythe said.Read comments