The Price Of Journalism

Tragic tale from Tuesday’s New York Times under Carlotta Gall’s byline:

A Footstep, Then an Explosion and an Urgent Call: ‘Medic!’

CHECKPOINT 16, Afghanistan — Joao Silva, a photographer for The New York Times, and I set out on patrol at 7 a.m. on Oct. 23 with a squad of 10 or 15 American soldiers and a unit of Afghan soldiers and police officers.

As we came to this crossroads, Checkpoint 16, the Afghans took up positions in a field to the north and American soldiers in another to the south. Police officers began checking people passing on the road. The squad wanted to thoroughly search the place, about a half-mile from its base, for improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s. The day before, another squad found and detonated a fertilizer bomb here . . .

Joao went with them. Then they turned down a side alley and into a ruined compound. I remained on the road with the platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Eric Elizey, and a medic.

Minutes later there was an explosion. A ball of black smoke rose from behind the wall of the compound. “That was not supposed to happen!” Sergeant Elizey shouted as he ran toward the edge of the road. There was silence from the other side of the wall. Then the call went up: “Medic!”

As the medic ran forward, the sergeant shouted to him which way was safe to go. After more minutes of silence, the sergeant radioed for a medevac helicopter. “Give me a name!” he shouted over the wall. “Give me a name!”

The reply came back: “It’s the photographer” . . .

Joao lost his legs in the explosion and suffered internal injuries and is recovering at theWalter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

Joao Silva’s last three frames before “becoming too weak to hold the camera.”

Just too sad.

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