SOUTH AMHERST, OH, US
SSG, HHC, 502ND INFANTRY, 2 BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM, FORT CAMPBELL, KY
07/10/2010, ZHARI DISTRICT, KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN
A Fort Campbell soldier killed in Afghanistan who was dedicated to telling the soldier’s story was the first Army journalist killed in combat since 9/11, military officials say. Staff Sergeant James P. Hunter died June 18 when a patrol he was with was struck by improvised explosive device in Kandahar. The 25-year-old journalist from South Amherst, Ohio, was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
In Iraq and increasingly in Afghanistan, military and civilian casualties are often caused by planted explosives, which means there is no traditional front line in these wars. According to count kept by the Committee to Protect Journalists, a total of 18 journalists have been killed working in Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001.
Those who worked with him said Hunter was impassioned reporter and photographer who always was trying to provide a glimpse into the lives of today’s combat soldiers.
His stories ranged from detailing how the brigade trains prior to a deployment to features about accomplishments of individual soldiers. His reports from Iraq included how soldiers worked with the Sons of Iraq movement and about life returning to normal in a Baghdad neighborhood in 2008. His photographs captured curious Iraqi children following troops on patrols, and Iraqi doctors and Army medics treating Iraqis.
Major Larry Porter, the public affairs officer over Hunter, said in an e-mail from Afghanistan that Hunter had an impact far reaching beyond someone twice his age. Specialist Joe Padula, who also worked in the public affairs shop with Hunter, said in a eulogy that during his second deployment to Iraq, Hunter wrote, edited and designed a monthly magazine by himself.
Kimberly Warren, the editor of The Fort Campbell Courier who worked with Hunter for about three years, described him as a tireless advocate for his brigade, commonly called Strike Brigade.
“His photos were amazing,” she said. “They would bring you right there to Afghanistan or Iraq.”
Hundreds turned out to his funeral services on June 29 in Winchester, Ky., and people lined the streets during the procession to the Lexington Cemetery. Warren said it was very inspiring to see the show of support.
“It was like everyone knew who Staff Sergeant Hunter was by the time the funeral came,” said Warren.
He is survived by his father and stepmother, Tom and Mary Ellen Hunter of Winchester; his mother and stepfather, Patricia and Rick Phillips of Birmingham, Ohio; a fiancée, Candice Clark; four brothers, Thomas Hunter, Cpl. Billy Hunter, Daniel Hunter and Timothy Hunter; a sister, Kathy Hunter; a half-sister, Navy Chief Petty Officer Charity Morgan; and two stepbrothers, Matthew and Michael Dobbs.