Monday, November 06, 2006

A definition of brave

I've taken the picture of above from a NYT multimedia presentation that everyone should have a look at. It's words and pictures telling the story of a Marine patrol hit by a sniper whilst on patrol in al-Anbar province. What has happened in this picture is one shot has rung out hitting and injuring the radio operator. The sniper managed to aim for a gap in his body armour and the bullet went through the marine's arm and on into his chest. An Iraqi colleague who was by him has run for cover so the radio-guy is now lying on the ground completely exposed and unable to move into shelter. His sergeant has worked out from which direction the shot came and has now stepped into the line of fire covering the injured soldier with his own body. Watch the multimedia presentation and you can see how he then drags him into cover. I wonder if the sergeant even thought about it? Using your own body to provide cover is a complete irrational thing to do - you could say stupid - and the fact that he does immediately also make it rather heroic. I hope someone gave him a medal, or at the very least bought him a few beers.

I don't think there is a wider point here - it's just one very brave but perhaps common act in a war zone that happened to have taken place in front of a NYT photographer. I expect insurgents do similar things to their colleagues as well, it's just that they might shoot any western photographers trying to snap them doing it. Anyway - watch the whole presentation, it's worth it.

Cheers to Akinoluna as I spotted the link on her blog. Again.

BTW - it took me age to find a way to "borrow" that photo. The presentation uses Flash and I don't know if there is a method to copy a picture direct as you can normally do by right-clicking on jpeg. I had to take a screen print and then use a picture editor. If anyone knows a better way, do tell.


Akinoluna said...

I was going to mention this on my blog but I forgot...the craziest part about the presentation is the Iraqi soldier. He made no effort to assist the Marine. He just RUNS AWAY! So much for the Iraqi and American armies working together.

Toby - Northern Light Blog said...

When I first wrote the entry I put a less neutral comment in on the Iraqi soldier's reaction - like "his Iraqi colleague who was by him has legged it it". But then I thought what we are seeing is pictures, not film, its not obvious how much time elapse between photos and they are all shot in one direction - so I thought I shouldn't judge. We don't see what all the other soldiers did when the shot was fired - USMC and Iraqis. You're the soldier so could tell me with more authority, but presumably if some one shoots at you, you hit the ground or dive for cover first - then look around and assess the situation? Perhaps the Sgt. ran for cover first just like the Iraqi seems to - then looks up, sees the injured man and goes to cover him? Perhaps the Iraqi soldier was going to crawl over and pull him to cover - just the Sgt. moved first? We don't know because that is all off camera.

It does look dodgy - maybe the Iraqi squaddy is a coward, or is thinking "F**k this! I'm not getting shot for an occupation", but we don't know. Whilst a picture is worth a thousand words, a thousand words at least might be necessary to give context to a picture.

Anonymous said...

I think one essential question is that did the Iraqi soldier have a bullet proof vest?

Akinoluna said...

Hmm, good point Toby. I said that mostly because I keep hearing stories about how they sometimes do run away at the first sign of trouble.