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Covering the Front Lines

Associated Press / Keystone / Eddy Ritsch

Covering the Front Lines

When we think of bravery during wartime, our thoughts usually turn to soldiers. Those men and women risk their lives for the safety and freedom of those they’ve left at home. But soldiers aren’t the only ones displaying wartime bravery. Often, journalists are right there with them on the front lines, risking their lives to tell the stories of war, to give us the words and images that will make us understand.

Sometimes, that risk turns to tragedy.

That’s what happened April 20, 2011, when four photojournalists covering the front lines in Misrata, Libya, ended up in the path of a mortar round while traveling with rebel forces. One, Tim Hetherington, was killed instantly in the explosion, and another, Chris Hondros, died of his injuries a few hours later. Michael Brown and Guy Martin were wounded but survived.

Tim Hetherington (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Contributor/WireImage)Tim Hetherington was in Libya working on an ongoing project highlighting wartime humanitarian issues. He had previously documented conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia and other locations. As co-director of Oscar-nominated film Restrepo, he documented a platoon’s deployment in Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. His goal was to “bring the war into people’s living rooms… and get people to connect with it.” Viewers of the wrenching film agree he succeeded.


Hetherington’s work went beyond film. A photo from his work in Afghanistan won the 2007 World Press Photo award for Photo of the Year. He was further honored with the Alfred duPont Award for broadcast journalism, the Rory Peck Features Award for a piece he produced for Nightline, and the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for best documentary.

Chris Hondros (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images News)Chris Hondros was a photographer for Getty Images, and he traveled all over the world to capture gripping, award-winning photos. In Iraq, he photographed the devastating aftermath of a shooting that left civilians dead; the images prompted U.S. officials to work toward preventing such tragedies. In Liberia, he took iconic photos documenting the fighting there. He worked in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Cuba, Egypt… anywhere he could help to bring stories of conflicts to the world. His images brought him nominations for the Pulitzer Prize and National Magazine Awards as well as honors by World Press Photo and the Overseas Press Club.

In Libya, Hondros continued his work, taking illuminating images of the conflict until the day he was killed.