Father Soldier Son

(Film by Catrin Einhorn and Leslye Davis)

Isaac and Joey Eisch would not remember a time when the United States was not at war.


When their father, Brian Eisch, left for Afghanistan in 2010 as a sergeant first class in the Army, he became one of the more than 775,000 American troops who have served in the longest war in U.S. history. Isaac and Joey became two of the countless children waiting anxiously at home.


The costs of war are often tallied in troops lost or wounded, but there are other consequences that are harder to measure.


The New York Times has followed the Eisch family for a decade, as their relationships were tested through Brian’s deployment, his homecoming and the aftermath. We watched the boys grow up in the shadow of their dad’s military service, while he struggled to reclaim his identity. Over the years, Isaac and Joey were shaped not only by his sacrifices, but also by his deeply held beliefs about what it means to be a man and an American.


When we began, we didn’t know how much joy and tragedy we would witness.


Photographs by Leslye Davis, Marcus Yam and Damon Winter