LEFT MARK IN LIBERIA
AMERICA JOURNALIST KILLED IN LIBYA
Chris Hondros Brought Riveting Images of the civil war to the World
Getty Images photographer Chris Hondros walks through the streets on an unspecified date in 2003 in Monrovia, Liberia. Hondros and Oscar-nominated filmmaker and photographer Tim Hetherington were killed on April 20, 2011
Cris Hondros once wrote about his experience in Liberia, saying: photographers and the public alike can become all too easily inured to images of devastation and suffering, but I think even the most jaded could not fail to be jarred by the carnage that happened in Liberia in the summer of 2003. A series of long-simmering skirmishes escalated unexpectedly into a desperate battle for control of the capital city, Monrovia, where most of Liberia's population had fled. The US sent a detachment of Marines to intervene, but politics and a reluctance to make a first move kept the troops from deploying during the fighting. Without this intervention, Liberia's rebel and government militia troops fought toe-to-toe in the capital for weeks, killing dozens every day, while thousands of Marines sat off shore and the world looked on in horror.”
Hondros life was cut short while on assignment in Misrata, Libya this week, along with filmmaker Tim Hetherington. The pair were killed Wednesday, after coming under fire in the besieged Libyan town of Misrata. Doctors at a hospital in Misrata had said Hetherington had died while Hondros was in critical condition. Getty Images later released a statement saying Hondros had died of his injuries.
For Hondros, the chaos and despair in Liberia was acute for the journalists covering the conflict as well, because they all shared the Liberians' experience. Unlike most war zones, Hondros wrote: “There were no safe havens: stray bullets zinged and deadly mortars fell indiscriminately, indifferent to whether they landed on a miserable refugee camp, the US embassy compound, or the press hotel. Sharing the fear and terror of the Liberians was important to creating an empathetic and intimate report of what it was like to live in such madness.”
Hondros was born in 1970 in New York to immigrant Greek and German parents, and grew up in North Carolina. After receiving a degree in English Literature at North Carolina State and conducting his graduate work in photojournalism at Ohio University's lauded School of Visual Communications, Hondros moved to New York and began to concentrate on international reportage. In 2001 he was awarded a fellowship at at Johns Hopkins' Pew Center for International Journalism in Washington DC, documenting the results of large-scale oil and gas drilling in Nigeria, and he was the recipient of the 1999 US Agency for International Development Photojournalism Grant for his work in Kosovo. His career in photojournalism has taken him to most of the major conflict zones of the past five years, including Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq, and Liberia. He lived in New York City, where he worked as a staff photographer for Getty Images News Service prior to his death.