By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 16, 2011 – Army Staff Sgt. James Hunter is remembered for lots of things. His fellow soldiers will tell you he was a hard worker, selfless and dedicated to his soldiers and their mission. His family will tell you that he loved Kentucky basketball and, above all else, he loved his country.
Today, Hunter was honored for his work as a journalist. He was an Army public affairs noncommissioned officer who was killed by a roadside bomb in June during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. His rifle was slung across his chest, but clutched in his right hand was his camera.
“He was an outstanding NCO and leader,” Army Lt. Col. Larry Porter, public affairs officer for the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said. Porter was Hunter’s boss at the time of his death. “He was very dedicated to telling the soldiers’ story.”
He and 76 other fallen journalists were memorialized at the Newseum here today in the 2011 rededication ceremony of the Journalist’s Memorial. The memorial honors 2,084 reporters, photographers, editors and broadcasters who died covering the news between 1837 and 2010. Their names are inscribed on the glass panels of the memorial, adjacent to a wall filled with photographs of their faces, some with a short biography. Of those reporters honored today, 59 died in 2010.
Krishna Bharat, founder of Google News, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address, praising the character and drive of journalists for the risks they take to inform the otherwise uninformed public.
“In most cases, [journalists] made the conscious choice … to walk a path that was not paved with gold, but danger, to serve a higher human cost,” Bharat said. “As we look back on the lives lost in the service of journalism, it’s worth remembering that while we cannot predict how and when we die, we can certainly choose how we live.
“The journalists we remember and honor today chose lives full of meaning and purpose,” he added. “They chose to bring news that mattered to people who care to make the world a better place.”
The fact that Hunter was part of the ceremony is a humbling honor, said Army Lt. Col. J. Frank Garcia, an Army public affairs officer who worked closely with Hunter at Fort Campbell, Ky.
“It really is great to see the Newseum honor a soldier journalist,” Garcia said. “[Hunter] was someone who volunteered not only to be a soldier, but to put himself in danger repeatedly just to tell the soldiers’ story [and] to ensure the story of what [soldiers] do all over the world is being told.”
Hunter grew up in South Amherst, Ohio, and enlisted in the Army in September 2003. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division’s 49th Public Affairs Detachment on Fort Bragg, N.C., and deployed with the unit to Iraq in 2006. Following his tour at Fort Bragg, Hunter reported to the 101st Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team on Fort Campbell, Ky. He deployed to Iraq a second time in 2008. He was only two months into his Afghanistan deployment when he was killed. He was 25.
“I’ll always remember [Hunter] as the guy who always volunteered for the tough assignments,” Garcia said. “He was the kind of guy who wanted to be up front with the troops, living with them and experiencing their experiences and making sure the world knew their stories.”