In 1970, at age 22, U.S. paratrooper James Speed Hensinger witnessed an intense firefight at the U.S. base of Phu Tai during the Vietnam War. For days, a sniper had been attacking sporadically on the base.
According to The Independent, Hensinger explained that the situation grew so desperate that he and the men were “…pissed off. We decided to use a ‘heavy’ response the next time the sniper hit us.”
The next evening after a sniper attack, Hensinger situated himself in a guard tower near the perimeter of the camp and set up a tripod on a 35mm Nikon FTN camera. When darkness fell the sniper attacked once again and the U.S. army peppered the hills with ammunition.
To document the retaliation, Hensinger photographed images with exposures from 15 seconds to one minute. In the end he captured what looks like a science fiction-based display of power—like a War of the Worlds photographic incarnate.
For over forty years, Hensinger kept the images to himself until 2013 when he released them for this year’s Memorial Day.
And what of the Viet Cong sniper? Hensinger explained to The Independent, “We sent out patrols during the day and found a blood trail one morning. Otherwise, we never found him.