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Rueters Photographer Anthony Bolante

December 31, 2006

I am trying to figure out how to pray about the war, the middle east, and maybe all the things in the world that don’t make sense. -Shari

2nd part of a story from a photographer I admire.

By Robert Hanashiro
Here’s what Anthony told me:
“Why do I still do this as a “citizen-soldier” as I have been home in Seattle with my wife for a total of only two months in the past 36 months? I see it everyday in the eyes of the children of Afghanistan who are suffering after nearly two decades of Soviet occupation and then after nearly a decade of the Taliban and Al Queda. Their oppression reminds me that those who can help, must help those who cannot help themselves.

“There is hope in Afghanistan and we as a coalition force have made significant headway toward Afghanistan’s self sufficiency. The issue is that there are idiots out there who are trying to kill us coalition forces as we conduct missions like MEDCAPS, which are military impromptu clinics to help the poor villages throughout the country with some medical care. Then, those same bad guys are trying to blow us up with IEDs or they snipe at us as we build irrigation ditches to help restore agriculture in a country that has been ravaged by nearly a century of overgrazing and water pollution. It saddens and also angers me that I have lost many colleagues here in Afghanistan in the past few months, all because in each instance, we were trying to help the people of Afghanistan.

“These concepts are evidenced by the photo I am attaching to this Email, Bert. While I have a million photos of my aviation team flying helicopters on combat operations, the photo of me with my US Army Engineer buddy Major Sean “Gusto”Gustafson standing with some of the neighborhood of families of the village of Zangalan in Herat Province, Afghanistan is more indicative in that it shows a photo of a grateful group of villagers that are helping us Americans rebuild a dam that a Soviet Union Army tank blew up in 1979 during their ruthless occupation.

Photo by

Anthony Bolante

“The Soviets blew up this 300+ year old dam and flooded the valley destroying the original village of Zangalan. Its original 1,500 occupants had to evacuate the valley and only a small handful of about 500 remain today after that dam flooding destroyed the landscape. Pictured here are the next generation of the Zangalan village who want to reclaim their homeland and the dam will allow the re-growth of agriculture in the valley. More importantly, the US Army engineers were mentoring the Afghan National Army engineers “how” to fix the dam themselves. This all relates to “teaching a man how to fish” is a way more important concept than just “giving a man a fish to eat.”

“Strategically, the more stable and self sufficient countries that fostered terrorist organizations like Afghanistan did in the late 1990s where Al Queda and the Taliban thrived, the safer our homeland of the United States will be. I love my wife, my family, my friends and my colleagues like many of you Sports Shooter road warriors out there. I dearly miss experiencing the freedom to live making beautiful images of magical sports moments and can’t wait to get back to doing photography on a daily basis. In Afghanistan, a man’s “good living” is that he’s got a new plastic tarp over his mud hut. Literally. I bear these sacrifices and endure these dangers in order that those I love can sleep well at night.

“PS: I complete my 16-month combat tour in Afghanistan in June 2007. After I am done in Afghanistan, my wife Roo (Clarissa) and I are going to our hometown of Honolulu for a month to surf and unwind after being shot-at and nearly blown-up in Afghanistan and then we return home to Seattle where we’re going to finally build our ski cabin in the North Cascades mountains before I go back to work as the Seattle Reuters photog. And, oh yeah, I’ll be a helicopter pilot back in the Washington Army National Guard doing boring things like fighting forest fires and conducting high-altitude mountain rescues again ;-)”

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3 comments

  1. Hey. I am an old friend of Anthony’s. I have moved back to Seattle and was trying to look him up, and found this page. Very eloquent. That guy is a marvel.

    If you are in touch with him please pass my email along to him!

    Great site.

    Jason


  2. Whether there are clinics where it is possible to receive free-of-charge health services, whether there are programs on transplantation of bodies for poor? WBR LeoP


  3. hi rueters here we guys in Keny that is in Kisii particular really appreciate all your news i believe that you people are the only media people with all that is required because you are the only source that we rely on here in kisii and even Keny and abroad i take this time to thank you people lots on the behalf of the
    Kenyan people and kisii in particular Kisii Campus primary school thanks indeed



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