Late last April, I commissioned photographer Tim Hetherington to write an essay chronicling his year spent in Afghanistan’s war-torn Korengal Valley with a platoon of American soldiers. He’d been there with journalist and author Sebastian Junger to document an outpost colloquially referred to as Retrespo, named after Juan “Doc” Restrepo, a soldier who’d been killed on duty. Their footage—Hetherington and Junger recorded even the smallest of personal encounters with the US regiment—was edited into what became Restrepo, a nominee for Best Documentary at this year’s Academy Awards. It is with great sadness that I learned today of Hetherington’s death.
He was in the Misrata district of Libya when he was killed on the front lines by what he’d referred to on Twitter as “indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces.” Details of his death are currently muddled, but this is without question a terrible loss for photography and journalism—and for the world. Read his heartfelt essay and see his revealing photographs here. Poetically, he ended his piece with the following words: “When I’m asked, as I frequently am, what the title of the film [Restrepo] means, I say that it refers to an outpost named after a fallen comrade. But it’s also a metaphor for the sense of loss that every soldier is forced to endure.”