Dave Tobin & Paul Fanning
Because of Hurricane Irene, most of the participants went home on Saturday morning, catching the last bus back to NYC at 11 AM. All of the mass transit was going to be shut down in New York until at Tuesday, so they had no choice but to leave prior to the big surprise we had planned for them. While our corporate sponsors prAna, Jade, Kulae and China Gel had wowed over our participants with generosity and gifts, what they hadn’t received were the hand-knit scarves made by a team of knitters from across the U.S.
However, we were able to present scarves to Dave Tobin of the Syracuse Post-Standard Newspaper, and LTC (ret) Paul Fanning, who was the head of the NY Army National Guard Public Affairs for many years. Paul placed many reporters as embeds in both Iraq and Afghanistan over the course of his career. Both had a six and three hour drive ahead of them, and we were grateful they stayed for another round of yoga, plus a massage.
Two Daves and a Paul
The next day, Jillian and Dave packed the rest of the scarves along with an anthology of
poetry prepared by Pamela Hart, the mother of an Army Ranger. They were sent with personal messages from the knitters. This includes a packet of letters, one of them is reproduced here, from Sgt. Misha Pemble Belkin’s mother Candy. Like myself, both Misha and Candice were personal friends of Tim’s.
I wanted to add a note to the scarf I am sending to you so you would know how grateful I am to be a part of this project to honor my friend Tim Hetherington.
My son is Sgt. Misha Pemble-Belkin now deployed for the second time to Afghanistan. Tim met my son o his first deployment at OP Retrepo, while filming with Sebastian Junger. He would often tell me on the short phone calls home about this British guy that was out there taking pictures of them, and how he would make fun of his accent and his drinking tea.
On one of his calls home, he told me that Tim had broken his ankle and they had to get him off the mountain to a spot where a helicopter could pick him up. (Just a side bar to this story, my son had fallen off a cliff on a night patrol, they thought he was dead, so they sent for a medic to go down and check before they brought in a chopper. When they got down to the bottom, he was standing up, cut up, and with concussion. His sniper rifle had been bent in half. He told me most of the guys had taken falls off those steep slopes).
Anyway, here is Tim –broken ankle, on morphine, sliding down the mountain on his butt and he rips a hole in his pants, slides into a bush and nearly pokes his eye out on a branch. Misha being the sensitive guy he is walks past Tim, pats him on the shoulder and says, “Hey, now you look like the rest of us!”
I finally met Tim while I was in NY and we traded stories about that day and many others. We share a lot of laughs: he had a fantastic laugh. He became part of our family, had shared so many experiences with our son through those horrible 15 months.
One of the first images that I had of my son was the picture Tim took, and I took it and hung it up on in my workshop so he was with me everyday. It gave me the strength to face those months and to stay strong for my son. I can’t express in words what a gift Tim gave to his mother.
Tim and Sebastian had planned on following Mish back to Afghanistan, that of course did not happen. I have been struggling with what I could do to let strangers know what a wonderful talented human being he was, so when this project came up I was all over it.
I wanted to let you know much much I appreciate the work you have done and may continue to do so. You help shed light and truth on stories where others may not have the courage to. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Feel better, rested, and stay warm.
All my respect, Candy Pemble-Belkin