VAERNES, Norway --
VAERNES, Norway – Being a U.S. Marine is a tough job, especially for parents who might deploy often and miss special moments while away. One dad has turned an opportunity to help photograph those memories into a rewarding passion.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Walter Cunningham began his hobby taking pictures of his daughter in marching band events, getting photos of her class to show parents that aren’t able to attend see their children play. Cunningham, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, is supporting Exercise Cold Response 2022 in Norway as the motor transport operations chief assigned to the Landing Support Force Party, Assembly and Arrival Operations Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
“While I was out there supporting my daughter, I had this realization that all those kids were working hard and their parents wouldn’t be able to see that due to being deployed and gone,” he said. “Taking pictures was my way of showing the families their kids practicing and I got a lot positive responses from other parents for doing that for them.”
Cunningham said it was that feedback that kept pushing him in his hobby which progressed rapidly into a passion.
“There have been a lot of memorable events I have been able to capture, especially while we have been out here in Norway,” he said. “I like taking pictures of Marines doing Marine things.”
While in Norway for Exercise Cold Response 2022, he was able to take pictures of promotion ceremonies and operations Marines have been a part of.
“I have been able to capture moments and give an opportunity for the Marines to hold onto memories, but also provide a visual representation for their relatives when they go home,” Cunningham said. “A lot of the pictures taken, I upload to our unit Facebook page so that the families can have photos of what their Marines are doing while out here for the exercise.”
Cunningham said he’s happy to provide this service and wished someone had done the same for him when he first joined.
“It feels good to see everyone’s reactions to the photos, I never got someone taking pictures of me when I was a junior Marine so it feels very rewarding to do that for them,” he said. “I’m giving back to the Marine Corps a little bit in my own way showing the world how we are supporting Cold Response.”