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Incredible images illustrate the bravery, hard work and sacrifice of armed forces across the world


A selection of photographs illustrating the bravery, hard work and sacrifice of armed forces across the world have been celebrated in the Military Visual Awards. 

Established in 2018, the awards were set up to create a bit of healthy competition between service people who take photographs around the globe. 

This year some of the incredible images depict moments of joy between colleagues who were captured laughing and joking together and also reveal some of the hardest moments military personnel face. 

Other impressive pictures show the armed forces in action, huddling together and shielding themselves from an explosion during a training exercise, as well as softer moments such as when they were reunited with their loved ones. 

This year another category, ‘pandemic’, was added to the awards where photographers were asked to submit images of any event, moment or scene which relates to coronavirus. 

Photojournalists Tom Brenner, Ariana Drehsler and photographer Richard Tsong-Taatarii were invited to sit on the judging panel for this year’s awards and they awarded 2020 Photographer of the Year to US Marine Corps photographer Dana Beesley, who leads a 16-marine team specialising in military PR.

The commander of Zr. Ms. De Ruyter and some of his crew walk in the desert in Dubai during their harbour visit for the European Maritime Awareness in The Strait of Hormuz mission on March 11, 2020. Picture taken by Dutch photographer Aaron Zwaar

The commander of Zr. Ms. De Ruyter and some of his crew walk in the desert in Dubai during their harbour visit for the European Maritime Awareness in The Strait of Hormuz mission on March 11, 2020. Picture taken by Dutch photographer Aaron Zwaar

An instructor pushes his students to their limits as he corrects his student, who appears to be struggling, on the proper way to execute a rope climb during class physical training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in October 15, 2020. Picture taken by the Military Visual Awards 2020 Photographer of the Year Dana Beesley

An instructor pushes his students to their limits as he corrects his student, who appears to be struggling, on the proper way to execute a rope climb during class physical training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina in October 15, 2020. Picture taken by the Military Visual Awards 2020 Photographer of the Year Dana Beesley

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, C-130 pilots and crew arrive at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Florida, with the team's new C-130J Super Hercules, alongside the Blue Angel delta formation which casts an impressive shadow on ocean below which looks to have a green tinge in the snap

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, C-130 pilots and crew arrive at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Florida, with the team’s new C-130J Super Hercules, alongside the Blue Angel delta formation which casts an impressive shadow on ocean below which looks to have a green tinge in the snap

The US Air Force Academy Class of 2020 graduates toss their hats in the air as the Thunderbirds roar overhead during the graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado in April 18, 2020. Nine-hundred-sixty-seven cadets crossed the stage to become the Air Force/Space Force's newest second lieutenants.

The US Air Force Academy Class of 2020 graduates toss their hats in the air as the Thunderbirds roar overhead during the graduation ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colorado in April 18, 2020. Nine-hundred-sixty-seven cadets crossed the stage to become the Air Force/Space Force’s newest second lieutenants.

Soldiers assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stack up against a simulated door for a silhouette charge at Fort Carson, Colorado, on December 7, 2020. The 299th BEB hosted the breach academy for non-combat engineer soldiers from across the brigade who huddled together and shielded themselves from the enormous blast

Soldiers assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stack up against a simulated door for a silhouette charge at Fort Carson, Colorado, on December 7, 2020. The 299th BEB hosted the breach academy for non-combat engineer soldiers from across the brigade who huddled together and shielded themselves from the enormous blast

In a more emotional moment, Jimmy Croona captures the scene when recruits from Sweden's National CBRN Defense Centre completed the Never Give Up exercise which means they are now part of the Swedish Armed Forces, and no longer recruits but soldiers

In a more emotional moment, Jimmy Croona captures the scene when recruits from Sweden’s National CBRN Defense Centre completed the Never Give Up exercise which means they are now part of the Swedish Armed Forces, and no longer recruits but soldiers

A recruit with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, struggles to complete the obstacle course during the Crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on June 12, 2020. The Crucible is a 54-hour event that ends with recruits earning their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and the title U.S. Marine

A recruit with Echo Company, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion, struggles to complete the obstacle course during the Crucible on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on June 12, 2020. The Crucible is a 54-hour event that ends with recruits earning their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and the title U.S. Marine

In this especially emotional photograph members of the 729th Quartermaster Composite Supply Company, Maryland National Guard, are greeted after returning from their 11-month deployment supporting NATO operations in Europe in November 17, 2020, at a parking lot across from the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. One loved one even created a sign which read 'I've been waiting my whole life to meet you! Welcome home Daddy'

In this especially emotional photograph members of the 729th Quartermaster Composite Supply Company, Maryland National Guard, are greeted after returning from their 11-month deployment supporting NATO operations in Europe in November 17, 2020, at a parking lot across from the M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. One loved one even created a sign which read ‘I’ve been waiting my whole life to meet you! Welcome home Daddy’

In an impressive aerial shot, two US Air Force and two Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, break formation during a commemoration flight on October 8, 2020, over Bagdad, Arizona. The flight celebrated the partnership between the RAAF and US Air Force

In an impressive aerial shot, two US Air Force and two Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, break formation during a commemoration flight on October 8, 2020, over Bagdad, Arizona. The flight celebrated the partnership between the RAAF and US Air Force

Tears flow from one soldier's eyes as they hug a colleague, both of which are wearing masks and their uniforms, while providing support for each other during the coronavirus pandemic

Tears flow from one soldier’s eyes as they hug a colleague, both of which are wearing masks and their uniforms, while providing support for each other during the coronavirus pandemic 

Young-looking tank conscripts were pictured by one military photographer from Sweden while they were guarding the royal castle in Stockholm

Young-looking tank conscripts were pictured by one military photographer from Sweden while they were guarding the royal castle in Stockholm

A member of US Navy SEAL Team One conducts a high altitude low opening (HALO) jump from a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron over Yokota Air Base, Japan, on June 17, 2020, during Exercise Gryphon Jet. Gryphon Jet was an integrated training exercise focused on improving interoperability throughout the special operations community

A member of US Navy SEAL Team One conducts a high altitude low opening (HALO) jump from a C-130J Super Hercules assigned to the 36th Airlift Squadron over Yokota Air Base, Japan, on June 17, 2020, during Exercise Gryphon Jet. Gryphon Jet was an integrated training exercise focused on improving interoperability throughout the special operations community

The 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer mechanics take selfies as a B-1B flies overhead at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in the western Pacific, on May 21, 2020. As the night draws in it creates an impressive silhouette of the plane which flies overhead and encourages several onlookers to take out their phones to capture the moment

The 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron B-1B Lancer mechanics take selfies as a B-1B flies overhead at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, in the western Pacific, on May 21, 2020. As the night draws in it creates an impressive silhouette of the plane which flies overhead and encourages several onlookers to take out their phones to capture the moment

Graduates from Drill Instructor class 3-20 pause for a moment of prayer before their graduation ceremony on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, on June 18, 2020. While at Drill Instructor School attendees develop leadership skills, command presence, instructional ability and knowledge

Graduates from Drill Instructor class 3-20 pause for a moment of prayer before their graduation ceremony on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, on June 18, 2020. While at Drill Instructor School attendees develop leadership skills, command presence, instructional ability and knowledge

A sailor is transported on a hospital bed across the brow to be admitted aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) which is serving as a referral hospital for non-Covid-19 patients to allow shore based hospitals to focus their efforts on coronavirus cases

A sailor is transported on a hospital bed across the brow to be admitted aboard the hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) which is serving as a referral hospital for non-Covid-19 patients to allow shore based hospitals to focus their efforts on coronavirus cases

In a beautiful family moment, Master Gunnery Sgt. Tory Hunck and Master Sgt. Vilmary Hunck pin second lieutenant bars on the collar of their daughter, 2nd Lt. Ashley Hunck, during her commissioning ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California on July 10, 2020

In a beautiful family moment, Master Gunnery Sgt. Tory Hunck and Master Sgt. Vilmary Hunck pin second lieutenant bars on the collar of their daughter, 2nd Lt. Ashley Hunck, during her commissioning ceremony at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in California on July 10, 2020

Quarantined due to possible exposure to COVID-19, basic cadets from the Class of 2024 follow social-distancing precautions during the Swearing In ceremony held on Stillman Field at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 11, 2020. In the impressive shot the group all sit an equal distance apart and all face masks

Quarantined due to possible exposure to COVID-19, basic cadets from the Class of 2024 follow social-distancing precautions during the Swearing In ceremony held on Stillman Field at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on July 11, 2020. In the impressive shot the group all sit an equal distance apart and all face masks

The US Naval Academy hold a swearing-in event for the Class of 2020 and during the ceremony, which saw all military personnel sat a safe distance apart, the group threw they hats into the air which made for an impressive photograph

The US Naval Academy hold a swearing-in event for the Class of 2020 and during the ceremony, which saw all military personnel sat a safe distance apart, the group threw they hats into the air which made for an impressive photograph

A C-130 Hercules from the 153d Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, flies over Cheyenne, Wyoming, in a show of appreciation for the essential personnel on the front lines of COVID-19 on May 15, 2020

A C-130 Hercules from the 153d Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, flies over Cheyenne, Wyoming, in a show of appreciation for the essential personnel on the front lines of COVID-19 on May 15, 2020

Members of the Republic of Guinea's armed forces take part in a simulated raid as part of the Flintlock Exercise in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Africa, on February 26, 2020. Flintlock is an annual, African-led integrated military and law enforcement exercise.

Members of the Republic of Guinea’s armed forces race across the sand carrying their weapons as they take part in a simulated raid as part of the Flintlock Exercise in Nouakchott, Mauritania, Africa, on February 26, 2020. Flintlock is an annual, African-led integrated military and law enforcement exercise.

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit's Maritime Raid Force laugh and joke with each other while they hold down a combat rubber raiding craft as a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 prepares to land during Cobra Gold 20 in Hat Yao, Kingdom of Thailand

Marines with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Maritime Raid Force laugh and joke with each other while they hold down a combat rubber raiding craft as a CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 prepares to land during Cobra Gold 20 in Hat Yao, Kingdom of Thailand

Staff Sgt. Samuel Peoples, 911th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, closes the thrust reverser fan duct on a C-17 Globemaster III engine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, on July 15, 2020

Staff Sgt. Samuel Peoples, 911th Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, closes the thrust reverser fan duct on a C-17 Globemaster III engine at the Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania, on July 15, 2020

Recruits with Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, complete the Crucible aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on February 22, 2020. The Crucible is a 54-hour culmination event that ends with recruits earning their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and the title U.S. Marine

Recruits with Bravo Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, complete the Crucible aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on February 22, 2020. The Crucible is a 54-hour culmination event that ends with recruits earning their Eagle, Globe and Anchor and the title U.S. Marine

In a photograph which looks dated but was in fact taken on February 25, 2020, an Airman applies camouflage to his face while appearing to smoke during Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training, at the Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington

In a photograph which looks dated but was in fact taken on February 25, 2020, an Airman applies camouflage to his face while appearing to smoke during Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training, at the Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington

The background of a colourful night's sky made this picture all the more impressive as medical evacuation Stryker, assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, stands by during an artillery live-fire exercise in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, on April 27, 2020

The background of a colourful night’s sky made this picture all the more impressive as medical evacuation Stryker, assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 2d Cavalry Regiment, stands by during an artillery live-fire exercise in Bemowo Piskie, Poland, on April 27, 2020

Air Force wrestler Cody Surratt celebrates winning the match against his University of Northern Colorado competitor, on Sunday, February 23, during the final dual meet of the 2020 season at the US Air Force Academy's Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado

Air Force wrestler Cody Surratt celebrates winning the match against his University of Northern Colorado competitor, on Sunday, February 23, during the final dual meet of the 2020 season at the US Air Force Academy’s Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado

A Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival instructs recruits who sit cross-legged paying close attention to the event which taught them proper breathing techniques before taking  swim qualification training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on September 29, 2020. Swim qualification is one of the first graduation requirements recruits face in training

A Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival instructs recruits who sit cross-legged paying close attention to the event which taught them proper breathing techniques before taking  swim qualification training on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina on September 29, 2020. Swim qualification is one of the first graduation requirements recruits face in training

In this impressive picture, a member of the Dutch infantry brigade can be seen looking the sight of their firearm during cold weather training in Austria

In this impressive picture, a member of the Dutch infantry brigade can be seen looking the sight of their firearm during cold weather training in Austria

Swedish photographer Astrid Amtén captured the impressive view of an undisclosed coastline from a cockpiut ansportation squadron during formation flight training with C130 (Hercules).

Swedish photographer Astrid Amtén captured the impressive view of an undisclosed coastline from a cockpit  during formation flight training with C130 (Hercules)

Combat photographers Sergeant Aaron Zwaal and Sergeant Major Hille Hillinga of the Media Center Defense have put special awards on hold during the Military Visual Awards.This American competition is all about the search for the best military photos and videos in the world. Pictured: Dutch Commandos conduct a training exercise

Combat photographers Sergeant Aaron Zwaal and Sergeant Major Hille Hillinga of the Media Center Defense have put special awards on hold during the Military Visual Awards.This American competition is all about the search for the best military photos and videos in the world. Pictured: Dutch Commandos conduct a training exercise

Dutch infantry brigade stand in formation pointing their weapons which have been placed on top of a white stand during cold weather training in Austria, with the backdrop of snow-covered mountains

Dutch infantry brigade stand in formation pointing their weapons which have been placed on top of a white stand during cold weather training in Austria, with the backdrop of snow-covered mountains

This impressive snapshot shows the incredible aerial sights on display as a number of US Army paratroopers prepare to exit an aircraft during an airborne operation in Aviano, Italy, on February 12, 2020

This impressive snapshot shows the incredible aerial sights on display as a number of US Army paratroopers prepare to exit an aircraft during an airborne operation in Aviano, Italy, on February 12, 2020

Contributing to the worldwide photography campaign, British photographer Rebecca Brown snapped Gurkha Recruits in Catterick, North Yorkshire, which created an impressive shadowy silhouette

Contributing to the worldwide photography campaign, British photographer Rebecca Brown snapped Gurkha Recruits in Catterick, North Yorkshire, which created an impressive shadowy silhouette

Entered as part of the Illustrative category, Dutch military photographer Hille James Hillinga captured this incredible snapshot which sees a Dutch SOF Korps commando holding their weapon with the backdrop of what looks like sunlight creeping into a tunnel

Entered as part of the Illustrative category, Dutch military photographer Hille James Hillinga captured this incredible snapshot which sees a Dutch SOF Korps commando holding their weapon with the backdrop of what looks like sunlight creeping into a tunnel

Another British entry came from Dayne Roberts, in the Illustrative category, which depicts a Corporal holding a poppy in the dead of night as he sheds a tear remembering the all solders that come before him

Another British entry came from Dayne Roberts, in the Illustrative category, which depicts a Corporal holding a poppy in the dead of night as he sheds a tear remembering the all solders that come before him

Drill Instructors and staff with Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, watch and observe as their recruits battle each other during nighttime Crucible boxing bouts on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, on October 8, 2020

Drill Instructors and staff with Mike Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, watch and observe as their recruits battle each other during nighttime Crucible boxing bouts on Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, on October 8, 2020

In this rain-covered image, which portrays some of the unpleasant conditions military personnel have to contend with, US Navy Sailors and US Coast Guardsmen conduct helicopter hoist training aboard a rigid hull inflatable boat on the choppy ocean waters

In this rain-covered image, which portrays some of the unpleasant conditions military personnel have to contend with, US Navy Sailors and US Coast Guardsmen conduct helicopter hoist training aboard a rigid hull inflatable boat on the choppy ocean waters

Highlighting the harsh realities of being in the armed forces, Angel Ruszkiewicz captured the moment the remains of US Army Spc. Antonio Moore,are loaded onto a C-130Hercules aircraft at Erbil Air Base in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as part of the journey to return to the United States on January 25, 2020. Moore was deployed to Syria in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and died when his vehicle rolled over during a route clearing operation

Highlighting the harsh realities of being in the armed forces, Angel Ruszkiewicz captured the moment the remains of US Army Spc. Antonio Moore,are loaded onto a C-130Hercules aircraft at Erbil Air Base in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq as part of the journey to return to the United States on January 25, 2020. Moore was deployed to Syria in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve and died when his vehicle rolled over during a route clearing operation

Photographer Cody Hendrix submitted this impressive image of the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, conducting the final flight on the F/A-18 A/B/C/D 'Legacy' Hornets over the ocean  as the sunset in Pensacola, Florida

Photographer Cody Hendrix submitted this impressive image of the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, conducting the final flight on the F/A-18 A/B/C/D ‘Legacy’ Hornets over the ocean  as the sunset in Pensacola, Florida



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