War Is A Risky Business

In three years, my direct contact with death, through war, now tolls at three.

Dong:

A young JTAC (Joint Terminal Air Controller – ie. Please drop that bomb here) I was introduced to by Hagar in the pub one night. We chatted a bit. I knew what a JTAC did because I had written about it in Immediate Response. He deployed to Afghanistan. Not long after he was killed. I was shocked by the news of his death. The instant extinguishing of life. Here today and then gone just like that.

Dong:

The journalist Rupert Hamer, from The Mirror. I had been speaking to him quite regularly up until he was embedded in Afghanistan. We were both interested in whether a peaceful resolution could be achieved. Again, his death hit me hard. I barely knew him but he struck me as journalist who was looking for more than just a story that would sell papers. He had integrity. Maybe this is hard for many in the military to fathom but I was introduced to him by a serviceman because he trusted him. I was deeply saddened by his death.

Dong:

Tim Hetherington. His death, a week today, and I still can’t quite get my head around it. I can’t imagine how his closest friends, loved ones and family are reconciling it. I feel like we have been robbed of a someone incredible. I know it was his time. It’s just that no-one was ready for him to go. War is a risky business and the business of war creates attrition. It can happen to you. We must never forget that. Everyone who knew him will mourn the loss and the gap that now exists in their lives. Death is a wound that heals but it leaves scars. His death has wounded many. For some it cuts deep and others it’s just a scratch. I will seize the creative freedom to which he aspired. We can but keep putting one foot in front of the other, and some must decide, once again, if they can walk in the Valley of Death. Unfortunately, there will always be wars for the intrepid to venture into.

Scanned from Newsweek

My last email with Tim was three weeks ago. I knew that he was going to Libya. Deep down, I knew that he wouldn’t come back. I had stopped looking. He threw himself mind, body and soul into the promotion of Restrepo. We called it Planet Restrepo – he was like a dog with a bone. I watched the short film, Diary that he made and saw a man at a crossroads. I think he should have taken a holiday after Restrepo didn’t win the Oscar and the rollercoaster had drawn to a halt. He needed a break to transition into the next phase. When I learned that he had opted to go to Libya I knew he was a war chaser. It was his crack cocaine. I stopped looking. Just like when Hagar goes to war. I can’t look. Hagar deploys again soon. I hate war. I hate guns, weapons, bombs and destruction. But men need war. Rest in peace Tim. Be vigilant Hagar. To all of you war chasers, in the war business, regardless of how I personally feel, your work is valued and you are loved. Tread lightly.

But onwards and upwards. I can’t hide anymore. Life goes on and we must keep pushing forward while we still breathe.

I am in France opening up our French House – we still have weeks available if you fancy a holiday in France this summer:

Le Petit Pre

Plus I have been invited back to be a Toys R Us Toyologist so more toy reviews, competitions and giveaways coming this summer.

Welcome to Review-land, a new place on the blog where I shall be reviewing all the products that PRs send me. Look out for the latest reviews on the right side of the blog – I have just uploaded some film reviews for your delectation.

16 Comments

  1. Vegemitevix April 27, 2011 Reply

    Very sad and even though we know intellectually that the war chasers are doing something incredibly dangerous and risky we never expect the war to catch up with them. Ever. Hang in there, breathing through loss takes time. Keep breathing hun. xx

  2. andrew lubin April 27, 2011 Reply

    These are our best and our brightest- which is what makes them travel into harms way. It’s not how one dies…but rather how one lives.

  3. Heather in Lapland April 27, 2011 Reply

    Risky indeed. I too hate war. Horrible, nasty, vile thing. And yet, as you say, men need it. At least some.

  4. Jack Sommers April 27, 2011 Reply

    I really regret not attending the Farnham Maltings screening of Restrepo. When I watched it later, I was struck by how you barely see or hear anything from the people behind the camera who are in almost as much danger as the soldiers. The soldiers trusted them to the point they seemed to forget the camera was there. RIP Tim Hetherington

  5. Home Office Mum April 27, 2011 Reply

    War is vile. Having just returned from France and seeing the war cemetaries, row after row of graves, it makes you realise how many lives are lost and hearts broken because of it.

    On a completely unrelated subject (well it relates to France), have you considered signing up with http://www.totstotravel.co.uk? Just a thought if you can’t fill your weeks.

  6. Wylye Girl April 27, 2011 Reply

    Just living in a garrison town and with the children having friends who’s family are in the military we have lost two people, the brother of one of The Girl’s classmates and the father of one of the Boy’s friends. It’s hideous and I hate the whole thing. Hate how it affects the families, hate what it does to people both physically and mentally. Have a relaxing time in France. Breathe in…… breathe out…..

  7. Steve April 27, 2011 Reply

    I guess chasing wars is like playing battleships… the shells get closer and closer. I couldn’t do it. But by God do I respect those that do.

  8. andrew lubin April 28, 2011 Reply

    I’m surprised and a bit disappointed at most of these posts.

    You’re the country that gave us Lord Nelson, the thin red line in Crimea, and Churchill’s oratory of fighting on the beaches and never surrendering…

    …yet now I read these whinging posts (by other than Jack & Steve) about how difficult the military family has it. They volunteered – and they knew, having volunteered after 9/11 and Iraq, they were going to serve, and with a full heart they volunteered and volunteered to return to serve with their mates.

    You might want to consider that these posts denegrate their efforts and an embarrassment to the UK military – their lives are at risk, what do you put up?

    Tim Heatherington loved his career, as did the other 2 Clare wrote about. Yes, it’s sad they were killed, but in the terms of stiff upper lip and all, how about showing some respect for their efforts?

    • amodernmilitarymother April 28, 2011 Reply

      These are lovers not fighters. Lovers get sad. We are allowed to be sad to give us the strength to live. It’s all part of the process of rationalisation.

      • Sue May 3, 2011 Reply

        They are not lovers, they are men who have volunteered to do a job. To be frank, I don’t have much time for journalists in a war zone, having had to complain to my MP about footage of wounded and dead soldiers being shown on Sky TV, less than 12 hours after an incident, when greiving families had only been told an hour before.

        They put themselves in harms way for a paycheck each month, not because they are serving their country. Compare the size of their salary and bonus scheme to that of a private soldier fighting at close range in Helmund.

        I’m afraid Journalists thrive on sensationalism, without any compassion or thought for those that are caught up in the money making scheme of the media.

        • When I said ‘lovers’ I was meaning the women who had said they hate war not the journalists.

          It’s a tricky one – there are good journalists and bad journalists. We all need news. We feed off it. I guess we all make choices – we are not at this present time supporting soldiers who have been forced to take the Queen’s shilling for combat either.

  9. Whatever comes my way April 29, 2011 Reply

    War sucks! I hope you return relaxed and refreshed from France. Onwards and upwards !

  10. EmmaK April 29, 2011 Reply

    ooh your house in France looks fab. If only I wasn’t a million miles away I’d definitely rent it out.

    By the way I have tagged you on my blog to show me the contents of your fridge.

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