A medic in a flight suit, from the Medevac helicopter, Staff Sergeant Peter Rohrs, knelt beside me. He talked to me as he checked me out, asking me where I was from, and why did I still have a camera in my hands. I asked him how bad it looked, and he said I had a hole in my back about the size of the palm of my hand... [and] "You’ve got another bullet hole in your chest. Looks like the entry wound.” This hole was the size of a penny, and I just couldn’t believe that something so small could cause so much pain.
As I lay on the stretcher I shot a few photographs of Rohrs tending the US soldier beside me, but by now I was really struggling to stay awake. When Master Sergeant Best’s face appeared before me I wasn’t sure if it was real or a dream. He was lying on the ground, with his face up close to mine, and holding my hand. He was upset, and I knew he would blame himself for what happened to me. I told him that he wasn’t to do that, that I had known the risks from the start and had accepted them willingly. At least I think I said that. That’s what I was thinking, but I might not have spoken at all. It was all pretty confusing in my head.
I was emailing with John's fellow photo journalist Chad Hunt last night who told me that John's returned to Afghanistan, where they both spent time with the 10th Mountain Division in 2006/early 2007. You can see some of Chad's excellent work at his website here. I find this "before and after" post particularly poignant.
In October, John, an Irish-born freelance photo journalist, finally wrote about the ambush of 14 May, 2007 in which he and five 10th MTN Soldiers were wounded. The ANA suffered 11 KIA and 4 WIA. This is a must-read.
On 2 November, 2007 - just over 5 months after being shot - he returned to Afghanistan (as he said he would when we met in Germany) and is now with Charlie Company, 1-503rd Infantry, 173rd ABN, currently attached to the 82nd Airborne Division. Go to his blog and read it all.
Be safe, John.
Click here for more 173rd ABCT Afghanistan posts.