Television producer, retired Air Force photojournalist, and American Legion member Stacy Pearsall has joined the Legion’s award-winning Tango Alpha Lima podcast team, and co-hosts alongside Air Force spouse and American Legion Auxiliary member Ashley Gutermuth for the fifth season.
Tell us about your combat deployments.
My first real combat deployment was in 2003. I was documenting medical evacuation and resupply missions on C-17 combat sorties from Ramstein to Baghdad. Later that year, I was assigned to cover ground-force and helicopter operations in and around Baghdad. I was injured the first time after my Humvee was struck by an IED. I rehabbed for a stint before being accepted at Syracuse University, where I studied journalism. Upon course completion, I volunteered to go back to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron. Of course, I had several more overseas temporary assignments before deploying back to Iraq in 2007. I was assigned to Forward Operating Base Warhorse in Diyala Province. It was there I suffered another combat trauma, which ended my career.
Describe the film-to-digital evolution for you, as a storyteller.
I started learning photography using black-and-white and color slide film — a medium that is unforgiving. You really had to know what you’re doing. In the digital age, where most smartphones have intuitive cameras built in, one can snap a pic and it will likely be decent. However, using a dedicated camera — digital or otherwise — still requires skill. For professional photojournalists like me, there’s still an ethical obligation to the public too. While everyone has a camera in their cellphones, very few people understand the power it holds. The pictures that are shared, how they’re captured, and how they’re edited, may all influence how the viewer interprets the information.
Can you give us an update on your PBS series about veterans?
After Action is a TV series I host on PBS where I sit down with three new veterans every episode to discuss topics important to the veteran community. Season 1 premiered on Veterans Day 2022 and was well received by veterans and non-veterans alike. From the beginning, I knew if we could touch one life — one veteran or a loved one of a veteran who may be struggling — that it was worth it. I’m thrilled to say Season 2 will hit PBS beginning in May.
What interested you in co-hosting the podcast?
It’s a natural fit considering all I do within the veteran community already, and the podcast has such a diverse cast of guests. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to meet and chat with them.
What will you bring to the podcast that’s new?
I hope to offer a fresh perspective and ask questions others might not. I will draw from my own experiences and more than 8,500 other veterans I’ve met and interviewed through the years. Plus, my service dog, Charlie, will be by my side, and who doesn’t like dogs?
You can listen and watch future and past episodes of Tango Alpha Lima on www.Legion.org, the Legion’s YouTube channel, and other major podcast-hosting sites.
By Henry Howard