Tom Aviles

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For Memorial Day 2001, Tom Aviles, of WCCO in Minneapolis, MN, put together a incredible nat sound peice about the Friday Squad at Fort Snelling National Cemetary.

CBS affiliates around the country were able to view it on the feed, and discussion started brewing about the piece on the Message Board on May 27, 2001. Tom was kind enough to respond to the applause, and mailed a copy of the story to us here at

Sit back and enjoy this perfect example of TV photojournalism.

[At the request of WCCO, we have removed the streamed version of the Friday Squad from our site, and replaced it with a link to the story streamed on Unfortunately, it appears WCCO has removed the story from it's website.]

The following is Tom Aviles's response on the Message Board:

Thanks for your kind words on the rifle squad piece. It was something I've wanted to do for several years, and after meeting these veterans I felt it would make a great story. I live only a mile away from the cemetary, so it was easy for me to shoot them each friday morning.

So over the course of 7 months I followed them for about a half an hour on my day off. My main voice of the piece, George, was by far the most passionate person I have ever met, and it wasn't until late winter that I found out that he is the last surviving member of the original Fort Snelling volunteer rifle squad, so with this, I knew I had a compelling voice for the story. I wanted to show people how much these vets have given to our country, and I was obsessed with making their story as compelling as possible.

I spent a whole sunday (this shows how much of a freak i am) trying to get the pieces last shot of the crow flying off the tombstone(my wife still wont forgive me). I spent many hours and shot many tapes for this piece, and when I was finally done, the most rewarding part was the response I have received from vets and families all over the country. we are very lucky to be able to work in a profession that allows us to touch the lives of so many.

Thanks for the messages on the vet piece.

For the time lapse sequence I marked my spot with cracks in the sidewalk and kept the shots wide, and went back with the same tape in camera to sync up the shot, plus on our avid the resize function helped me since all the shots were off a hair.

And lastly, yes if I figured the time I put in for "free" I saved the station a good sum of money, but to tell you the truth I didn't do it for my station, but for the vets who have volunteered close to a million work hours over the last 21 years.

If it were up to my station, this piece would run as a 30 sec VO. I figured these vets deserved more then a blurb in the news, and my working hours on this piece pale into comparison of the hours these vets put in, also for free.

I love money, but I love a good story just as much. Adios! and thanks for the replys.

Tom Aviles, News Photographer, WCCO, Minneapolis, MN []

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