Medic Tends Fallen Marine, With Skill, Prayer and Anger: The main front cover headline on New York Times this morning it’s below a moving image by photojournalist Joao Silva. A very arresting front cover lead photograph. In the image the medic marine’s bloodied hand is pictured as he holds up the sniper’s bullet that had 15 minutes before struck the head of his friend. The medic has done everything he could the helicopter has evacuated the critically wounded comrade, now the ‘Doc’ is left to asses his own performance and contemplate the extent of his friends wounds. Now as the adrenaline eases and the lasting enormity sinks in, ‘Doc’ speaks movingly to the reporter about his friend and Joao makes the picture . This image has both the right shock value and the right subtly to allow you to view it without turning away, to be moved by the soldiers’ plight without being overwhelmed by the gore of battlefield wounds. Its a telling image. Joao Silva has made many telling images, this is not his first. This is not his first trip to Iraq or assignment to cover conflict.
I knew Joao from covering his native South Africa. I did not know him well, but I still feel a connection with him……. His image of today, for me brings back a terrible day….. in Tokoza a township just outside Johannesburg……….. a day when my hands were bloodied…….. a day when we fought to save his great friend and another gifted photojournalist Ken Osterbrook. At the end we were all bloodied our hands and clothes our faces and hair as we attempted to give heart massage and mouth to mouth resuscitation to Ken . I went with Ken in the armored car that took him to the emergency room……. in the heat of it all I had said he would be OK….. it wasn’t for me to pronounce him dead….. but he clearly was…… when he arrived at the hospital they rapidly pronounced him dead…..obviously it was devastating to be present at the death of a fellow photojournalist……I remember pushing aside his cameras to give him heart massage……even at the time I was aware that I was roughly handling his precious cameras…..of course to try and save his life…… but even at the time a duality of feeling……. a reverence for the physical tools…… the cameras……. and simultaneously the opposite sensation of ‘these damned cameras that have brought us to this’.
Afterwards my hands and clothes bloodied…… I felt awkward with Joao and other close friends of Ken……I had not saved him……nor could I have….a bullet had passed through his vital organs…..but I had said he would live……
Respect to Petty Officer Third class Dustin E.Kirby for his skill and diligence as a battlefield medic and respect to the critically wounded Lance Cpl. Colin Smith I thank them for their service and my sincere best wishes and hopes for a recovery to Colin and my thoughts too are with his family and friends. Respect and thanks also to Joalo Silva and C.J. Chivers for their moving coverage in the New York Times. Good Luck to them all.
…Doc had scrubbed himself clean. A big marine stepped forward with a small Bible, and the platoon huddled. He began with Psalm 91, verses 5 and 11.
“Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flieth by day,” said the big marine, Lance Cpl. Daniel B. Nicholson. “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.”
Then he asked for the Lord to look after Lance Corporal Smith and whatever was ahead, and to take care of everyone who was still in the platoon.
“Help us Lord,” he said. “We need your help. It’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”…
from C.J Chivers article.
[ 13 ] comments
- How about the New York Times (and your good self) showing some respect towards Iraq and its people. The soldiers have a choice. Jingoism sucks, my friend.
Sutcliffe @ November 2, 2006, 8:37 pm
- Ah yes….. spoken in a truly heartless way, I would have thought surely no one could read that and not be moved by the plight of that individual soldier? Even if they have never supported over throwing “Saddams: Republic of Fear”. It’s true ,yes, I read that piece and homed in on the people it was about and the journalists that produced it. You are right I did not mention any respect due to the Iraqi people an oversight I agree….. I saw today another prominent Iraqi academic, Essam al-Rawi was killed. According to AP more than 180 professors have been murdered at least 3250 have fled since the widespread outbreak of sectarian violence this February. Respect is certainly due to anyone lifting a modern secular educated head in a public way above the depressing landscape of religious extremism, ignorance and violence. Although al-Rawi was likely targeted because of his political views, Iraqi academics have increasingly fallen victim to the country’s religious extremists and other violent groups. I respect anyone, politician or academic, searching for a decent way of life that could accommodate all Iraqis in decency. Anyone attempting to deliver, for once, a chance to live without fear of violence and oppression, they certainly earn my sympathy and respect. As does any ordinary citizen who would just like to live that ordinary decent life free of violence, fear and oppression. “Jingoism”……hmmmmmm………er…….. Im not sure ‘jingoism’ really sums up my view……er……..Im not even American. jin·go·ism (jngg-zm) Pronunciation Key n. Extreme nationalism jingoism n 1: an appeal intended to arouse patriotic emotions [syn: flag waving] 2: fanatical patriotism Seriously; to show respect for the people of Rwanda during the genocide some sort of intervention would have been right. Now it could be argued that respect for the people of Darfur demands intervention. American Intervention in the second world war in Europe to fight the Nazis, freed the people from fascism. Respect can and could , does sometimes, mean assisting people to live in peace and freedom and escape tyranny. How would it be more respectful to the radical people of Iraq to pull out now and let them all get butchered. Cheers Jez
jez @ November 2, 2006, 11:25 pm
- Many would accuse the Bush administration and their cronies of “religious extremism, ignorance and violence.” Certainly their violent marauding around the world under the misnomer of a “war on terror” (whatever that means) appears to be nothing about the perpetuation of the decency and freedom to which you refer. Remember the Crusades? They too wished to bring Christian decency and “freedom” to the pagans and the Muslims. At least that’s what they said. But of course history shows otherwise. Real respect was the first thing out the window. I suspect the previous commentator was referring to your maudlin pro US gratitude towards the soldier and the medic, both of whom you did not know but who you felt compelled to glorify and “respect” for putting their lives on the line in the name of Bush’s definition (and yours?) of freedom. Your gratitude seemed at the expense of any real and profound comprehension of the true forces at play in this appalling confrontation. Or so it appears. Perhaps it was that which seemed jingoistic to him.
Chan Riaz @ November 3, 2006, 12:33 am
- Oh my! Think I’ll just try and talk about the photo. Very nice picture. Suppose a bit of a mixed message considering the argument above, but good non the less.
Sally Ray @ November 3, 2006, 6:25 am
- Thanks Sally……you are certainly right my image could easily be read as Anti-the-War which I’ve no problem with. I certainly do have a problem with people implying that because US soldiers are acting on their orders in Iraq they deserve to die. That they do not deserve our respect and that to offer them respect and wish them luck is Jingoistic. That any over seas mission could not be deserving of respect and is inherently a crusade? I worked extensively photographing the US forces on their intervention in Bosnia…….. that mission saved thousands of muslim lives, it was ordered after UN flagged Dutch troops allowed 20,000 muslim men to be massacred under their noses by the army of Republika Srpska in Srebrenica ….. that US deployment was another mission that attempted to bring some level of modern decency and a chance at democracy and largely freed ordinary people from the vile, ignorant ,religiously inspired ethnic slaughter (largely carried out by people who would identify themselves as Christian). cheers Jez
jez @ November 3, 2006, 10:04 am
- “…that US deployment was another mission that attempted to bring some level of modern decency and a chance at democracy…” Sounds like what the British used to say about black Africa. The great moral crusade. If you believe this then you’ve swallowed the whole sandwich and truly lack an understanding of the mechanics of geopolitics. You may well be a lost cause. I reckon you’d be one of those media types more comfortable as an embedded reporter, towing the line and serving the agenda of the great war machines that almost always go on these “civilizing missions” for self-serving vested interests and not ever “to bring some level of modern decency and a chance at democracy.” The real story of the Balkans is there for all to read should people choose to see through the guff. After the collapse of communism the great carve up began in earnest (and is still going on in all manner of ways). It had nothing to do with decency. Ethnic cleansing was the by product, and profoundly hideous without a doubt. By the way, when you talk of wishing the soldiers luck do you mean luck that they aren’t killed as invading combatants or luck that they manage to kill a lot more Iraqis (innocent and resistant) than have already been killed by western forces? Iraq is fragmenting. The US and allies have lost control. The US administration and British government are directly responsible for this horrendous catastrophe (including the stream of returning body bags containing both British and US service men). The situation now is far worse, and far more deadly for the general populace, than it ever was during Saddam’s reign (not that I was ever a Saddam supporter. Very far from it. He deserves everything he gets and hopefully soon). Somewhere, someone miscalculated on a very large scale. This “civilizing mission” has backfired and in effect destroyed the very birthplace of “civilization”.
Rudy Dazerr @ November 3, 2006, 8:18 pm
- Now now boys, calm down!
Beau Lee @ November 3, 2006, 8:19 pm
- Er…….Ive always been a supporter of FTP operations……which stands for F—- The Pool. Which means you are not know for cozying…. you don’t get embedded you do take enormous risks to be independent…..actually. By doing that and being behind Serbian lines I managed to witness the aftermath of ethnic cleasning……..if you have stood holding your clothing to your mouth blinking away the flies as they transfer from the piles of corpses to your face…….if you see that the peoples throats have been cut with a cheese wire…….you probably would not refer to the slaughter as a by product of some more important game………it was absolutely fully the main problem for ordinary people in Croatia and Bosnia (maybe not for political studies students at a campus a very long way off). Religious and ethnic intolerance takes on a life of its own and was the method that politicians at the time leveraged their power in the Balkans. Dutch and Spanish troops with an uncertain UN mandate did not stop it. In Srebrenica 20,000 muslim men died in a few days while UN forces were close by. It wasn’t until US forces were deployed that level of slaughter was fully arrested. To pretend that was not an absolutely decent thing to do is disgusting. Commenters above were implying individual US soldiers deserve to be killed thats also just disgusting. Sure its a mess in Iraq. Clearly there has been serious levels of miscalculation throughout. One of the stated aims was to assist to bring democracy clearly this is failing. I see from Drudge http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2006/12/neocons200612 even Richard Perle regrets advocating overthrowing Saddam. Its a sad situation especially for the people of Iraq but some people’s hatred of Bush is such that they are glad to see Iraq disintegrate into civil war. Options for a more modern secular state and life are disintegrating into a morass of depressing ignorant, religious and ethnic violence. Clearly someone like myself whose politics have always embraced anti- fascism is depressed that the end of Saddam’s: Fascist,’ Republic of Fear’ did not usher in a modern democracy. To only write about the journalists who created the article seemed to miss the point of that piece………. not to close by wishing a man who has received a bullet wound to the head good luck………. er …………. what planet are you from? Cheers Jez
jez @ November 4, 2006, 12:43 am
- It’s true… JINGOISTS ATE MY BABY!
Lindy Chamberlain @ November 4, 2006, 7:42 am
- Oh wow, I think I saw you here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwbKPod2DtM
Kerly @ November 17, 2010, 6:06 pm