Day 3 of 28: August 27, 2010

I woke up at the HoJo in Athens, GA around 6am, getting very little sleep, I had stayed up later then I wanted to, Skyping with my friend Sophie in Haiti. I showered, made some coffee (I brought three pounds of Gorilla Coffee from Brooklyn, my french press and a thermos) and hit the road. I had two scheduled visits today, with three retired members of the Army Military Police. The first was in Lincoln, Alabama, at the home of Denise Jacinto and Sharrie Russell, they were both retired Army Lieutenant Colonel’s who have been together for 17 years.  Three and a half hours later I arrive in Lincoln, look at my phone and notice it is not 10:45am but now 9:45am, damn time zone. A word of advice, when you are traveling cross country, pay attention to those lines on the map that mark where the time zones begin/end. I really could have used that extra hour of sleep. So, there I was in Lincoln, AL ( a place where every other station on the radio was playing something or other Christian), the Bible Belt with an hour to kill. It was a very beautiful place, I drove around the lake, back roads and farm areas until I found a place to pull over, sat on my car and wrote some postcards. At 11am, I pulled up to Denise and Sharrie’s.  I was e-introduced to Denise via Capt. Tanya Domi. Actually Tanya also e-introduced me to Sergeant Tracy Giesker who I was scheduled to visit with next in Birmingham, AL.  Denise and Sharrie were great, I spent the next several hours with them chatting, photographing and recording their stories. It was a great honor, neither one had ever shared their lives or stories with a stranger. After we were done shooting and recording, we all sat down and had a homemade lunch! Yummy, not only was I starving, this was the first time since I left Brooklyn that I wasn’t eating alone in a restaurant. We hugged goodbye, in true east coast style, Denise was (who was from Brooklyn) slipped me $40 that was rolled in her hand and passed it my way “take it, gas is expensive.” We hugged again and off I went to Birmingham. Thirty minutes later I pulled up to the home of Sergeant Tracy Giesker. Tracy was very nervous, she admitted that she hadn’t ever really spoken about her military experience and was very camera shy. We chatted for a while and then I took a few photos with her rescued dog, Buddy and then recorded her story. Tracy wanted to make the military her career, but due to numerous threats, constant harassment and investigations into her sexuality she retired after thirteen years.  When I was getting ready to leave, Tracy handed me $100 and said take it, you’ll need it. Thank you kind and generous ladies of Alabama.

My next visit wasn’t until the next afternoon in Lake Charles, LA I decided to drive down to Mobile to spend the night.

Lieutenant Colonel Denise Jacinto (R) and Lieutenant Colonel Sharrie Russell (L) both served in the Army Military Police Corps. Denise served from 1976 - 1996. She was one of the first women assigned to a combat division and served as the first division provost marshal on Ft. Hood with the 2nd AD. Sharrie served from 1974 - 1995. She was the former commander of a 1200-soldier battalion. They both ended their military careers, retiring in order to be together. They have been together for 17 years.

Sergeant Tracy Giesker served in the Army as a member of the Military Police from 1981-1994. Due to numerous threats and investigations into her sexuality, Tracy decided not to continue her military career after 13 years of service.


About Jo Ann Santangelo

Austin based freelance multimedia documentary photographer and storyteller.
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