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Ukraine: The Death of American Videographer

Note from 13 March: A source sent photos from Ukraine along with images of a man killed. Rest In Peace. His name and so forth are all widely announced in all forms of media — I withheld ID until public.

Update: Ben Hall from Fox was also reportedly injured and in hospital All the best to Ben. I may head over to Poland this week and mosey on over.

Brent Renaud is dead.

This appears to be factual. It appears that American journalist Brent Renaud was killed in Ukraine. I accept this as a working fact. It appears Brent likely was killed in a combat zone at or near a checkpoint. From here it gets hazy and sides are picked.

One side blames Russians, one side blames Ukrainians — as a very experienced war correspondent.

There are other sides.

I chose silence, knowing that those who instantly assign blame from afar reveal a deep naivety of battlefield realities.

If you were not there, you do not know. Period. Even if video emerges, there is context in combat zones that one must experience to understand.

Note for new war correspondents from an old war correspondent: APPROACHING CHECKPOINTS IN COMBAT ZONES IS EXTREMELY DANGEROUS — night or day but especially night.

Keep that in mind if kinetic war breaks out in America.

Approaching checkpoints in battle zones is one of the most dangerous things you will ever do.

This happens so often in wars that I cannot even remember. Sometimes I was a direct witness or happened nearby from units I was with.

I made the video below. This night in Iraq, I happened to be capturing video when a US Soldier I was with fired warning shots to stop a car we were following during a combat patrol. A nearby Iraq Police station lit us up with machine guns and small arms.

During nighttime firefights, untrained troops tend to shoot HIGH. Lucky for us, this time they shot high.

One of the most dangerous things you can do in combat is to approach armed men — day or night — without clearly marked uniforms or vehicles.

Let’s face it — hurricanes are wet and wars are dangerous.

All the time. The danger never ends. No time-outs. No safe zones. Sudden death is the norm. Other war correspondents will die and disappear if this continues. The war likely will continue and expand.

Friendly fire does not exist. And it’s not just Russians or Ukrainians. Americans and British will do it, too. Civilians or other troops — armed or unarmed makes zero difference — approach too fast or drive erratically — as people do when scared — and get lit up. Or they do everything right and still get lit up.

Assigning blame for this stuff from distance is a sort of “war crime.” You go to war, you take your chances. War correspondents tooling around alone — which I have done a LOT — are rolling a pocket full of dice with every breath they take. War is played by Big Boy and Big Girl rules.

Rest in Peace, Brent. You will have company soon. This is war.

While my video was running:

Michael Yon

Michael Yon is America's most experienced combat correspondent. He has traveled or worked in 82 countries, including various wars and conflicts.

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1 Comment

  1. Well said!

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