The Stories of 37 Associated Press Journalists Killed While Covering Wars

The website Connecting, compiled by Paul Stevens, connects current and former AP journalists and tells their past and present stories. Today’s Connecting is about the 37 Associated Press journalists who died on assignment since the news cooperative was formed in 1848. Thankfully, Stevens says, no names have been added to the Wall of Honor since 2019.

The first was Mark Kellogg, a journalist and telegrapher working for the Bismarck (N.D.) Tribune, was killed covering Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer on the first day of the battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876. By special arrangement, Kellogg’s reporting appeared in Western Associated Press member papers, in The New York Herald, and in other eastern papers. News of his death at age 43 was published in the Tribune on July 12, 1876 with the words from a note he left behind: “I go with Custer and will be at the death.” Custer had ignored warnings not to take journalists with him from Fort Lincoln to the Little Bighorn and invited the Tribune’s publisher, Clement Lounsberry, to accompany the troops. When Lounsberry fell ill at the last moment, Kellogg took his place.

The last was Mohamed Ben Khalifa, a free-lance photographer and video journalist who worked frequently for The Associated Press, was killed Jan. 19, 2019, in the Libyan capital of Tripoli while accompanying a militia on patrol. The group came under missile attack, and Ben Khalifa, 35, was killed by shrapnel. He left behind a wife, Lamya, and a 7-month-old daughter, Rayan.

Ben Khalifa’s work for the AP from 2014 included more than 260 photos and scores of videos. His contributions reflected Libya’s post-2011 chaos of rival militias fighting for control as well as the humanitarian tragedy of waves of people fleeing North Africa, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. The country splintered in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprising that led to the ouster and killing of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Ben Khalifa was a beloved member of the free-lance community in Tripoli and colleagues considered him to be among Libya’s leading photojournalists.

Libya’s violence was a constant theme in his work. But with his sharp eye for detail, Ben Khalifa also captured attempts by ordinary Libyans to carve out normal lives, such as his photo of a young boy in an embroidered jacket staring into his camera, facing away from rows of men in prayer. AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee called Ben Khalifa’s photographs “important and impactful” and paid tribute to his courage and dedication in telling his country’s story with humanity.

The first AP newswoman who died on assignment was Sharon Herbaugh, killed April 16, 1993, in a helicopter crash in the central mountains of Afghanistan, 100 miles north of Kabul. She was 39. Herbaugh had spent three years covering the Afghan civil war and its aftermath. “One of Sharon’s editors once said, She’s always looking for the next hurricane,'” AP President and CEO Louis D. Boccardi said after her death. “That search ended in a field in Afghanistan but Sharon leaves a legacy of brave, insightful work that helped us all understand a distant, bitter conflict.” Herbaugh, a native of Lamar, Colo., joined the AP in Denver in 1978, and worked in Dallas, Houston and New York before transferring to New Delhi in 1988, where she was named news editor the following year. She became chief of bureau in Islamabad in 1990.

Speak Your Mind