John Ismay spent a decade in the U.S. Navy as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician and Special Operations Officer. He completed multiple overseas deployments, including a combat tour to Iraq in 2007.
His work as a writer began that same year. He became a specialist on different kinds of weapons used by insurgents, created hundreds of reports on their use, and developed countermeasures that saved American lives.
When he left the Navy four years ago as a Lieutenant Commander, he turned to journalism. The choice was inspired, in part, by the work he did with the New York Times on an award-winning investigative series about the discovery of chemical weapons in Iraq.
John continued his work at the Times, writing for the At War Blog, while attending Columbia Journalism School, where he focused on long term investigative projects and data analysis.
He was among the writers of a pair of stories in the New York Times that won a George Polk Award, one of the most distinguished awards in journalism. The stories investigated the tactics of the Navy SEALs, the elite special operations force best known for the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The New York Times reporting raised concerns about excessive killing and civilian deaths by SEAL personnel.