Albert Carls was told he had won a coveted award before anyone mentioned he was even nominated.
“I’m still in awe about winning,” said Carls, a 31-year old Marine sergeant from Sacramento, Calif. “It really hasn’t hit me yet.”
Carls will receive the Cpl. William T. Perkins award as the combat cameraman of the year today at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland for his video-journalism work done in Afghanistan from April to May of 2012. His video, Going Forward in Helmand, featured Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, conducting combat operations during Operation Enduring Freedom.
The award is in memory of the corporal who jumped on top of an enemy grenade during Vietnam and became the only combat photographer to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest award for valor.
“I don’t think my work is award-worthy,” Carls said. “I did my job, which happened to be filming others doing their job.
“I was just trying to tell their story.”
It was telling their story that got him nominated.
While the officer who nominated Carls could not be reached for comment, one of his superiors, Master Sgt. Chad Kiehl, said that Carls winning the award has been a motivator for the Marines around him.
“This is huge,” Kiehl said. “It’s an honor to have him recognized as the videographer of the year. Any time any of our Marines are recognized is outstanding, especially with such a prestigious award.”
Carls’ level of attention to detail and professionalism are why Kiehl said he wasn’t surprised when he heard that Carls had won the award.
“He is dedicated to the mission and job of combat camera,” Kiehl said. “He really wants to highlight his fellow Marines. He wants to give recognition to the riflemen and the job they do.”
When Carls went to Defense Information School to become a combat cameraman he never imagined he would be the recipient of any of the awards they learned about. He actually joked about winning one of them, never thinking it would actually happen, he said.
“It’s great that I won,” Carls said. “This is something my kids can look back on and be proud of me about.”
He said he hopes that this award teaches other Marines that hard work always pays off.
“When you do something that’s more than yourself — when you put the work in you’re going to get a better product,” Carls said. “It’s all about catching emotion. That’s what people remember most afterward.”