Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame Inducts Photographer Killed in Afghanistan

David Gilkey died in an ambush last June

When NPR war correspondent Tom Bowman recently returned to his Alma Mater Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., he told students that he is still feeling the effects of a horrible 2016 Afghanistan ambush. The June 5 attack claimed the life of his colleague, photographer David Gilkey, and their Afghani translator.

This month, it was announced that Gilkey is among the latest group of journalists inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. 2017 honorees will be celebrated at a banquet in East Lansing April 9.

Before joining NPR, Gilkey was a photographer with the Detroit Free Press from 1996 to 2007. Two other Free Press reporters, Patricia Anstett, who retired in 2011, and columnist John Gallagher, have also been inducted.

Tom Bowman and military-veteran students

Indirectly, the spirit of Gilkey was alive and well-remembered at Saint Michael’s Feb. 22. At Bowman’s request, the NPR correspondent was joined on-stage for an evening panel discussion by two current military-veteran students at the school, both of whom have done multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. Former Marine Chris Boutin, a psychology major, hopes to counsel fellow vets in future, while Army veteran Drake Rivas plans to become a history teacher.

Bowman, Class of 1977, was himself a history major. When he visited Professor David Mindinch’s “Media and American Politics” class, he shared with students that he uses that degree “every single day” for reporting context.

Meanwhile, when Gilkey died last year, he was warmly remembered by his former Free Press colleagues:

“He was one of the most thoughtful photographers I have ever known,” said Nancy Andrews, a former Free Press managing editor for digital media in Gilkey’s time at the newspaper. “On the exterior you had this war photographer who was willing to put himself at great risk to tell stories, and on the other hand you have this really gentle teddy bear.” She laughed: “I don’t think he’d want to be known as a teddy bear.”

And Kathy Kieliszewski, visuals director at the Free Press, said: “It didn’t matter if he was covering the war in Iraq or Mud Day at Hines Park, David put his all into capturing life in the most compelling and thoughtful way.”

Also inducted this year into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame are Crain’s Detroit Business editor-publisher Mary Kramer and veteran Michigan newspaper journalist Stephen Cain.