Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms

Seven-part audio slideshow series follows twin brothers from high school graduation through boot camp to deployment in the Middle East.

This seven-part series of audio slideshows, photographed and narrated by Brian Plonka of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, follows twin brothers Matthew and Robert Shipp of Hauser Lake, Idaho, for two years, from high school graduation to Marine boot camp to deployment in the Middle East. It is a beautifully photographed, quiet piece about brothers, family and military life.

Plonka uses natural sound, narration and interviews with the brothers, their families and wives to complement his stunning photographs.

The story follows the young men, who had always dreamed of becoming Marines, through grueling boot camp, graduation, marriages to childhood sweethearts, and separate deployments. One brother is sent to Iraq almost immediately while the other is sent to Kuwait where he waits for further deployment in the Middle East.

The series captures the tension and stress of one brother living on a U.S. base in war-torn Iraq and the frustration of the other brother awaiting deployment.

Through great persistence and patience, Plonka got good access to both subjects and captures many moments of their lives in the military. However, it is clear that his access overseas was more restricted than the photos and audio he captured stateside.

The series is accompanied by a personal journal by Plonka about his trip to Iraq, and each portion features a blog post by Plonka.

Length: Each of the seven segments is two to four minutes.

Photography, audio and narration: Brian Plonka

Stories: James Hagengruber

Producer, editing: Colin Mulvany