NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson, alumni, friends and family gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on June 23 to honor Chris Hondros (English ’93), the NC State alum who was killed on April 20, 2011, while on assignment for Getty Images in Libya.
Hondros and his colleague Tim Hetherington, director of the Oscar-nominated film Restrepo, were killed in Misurata, Libya, during an attack by Moammar Gadhafi’s forces against rebels in the city during the Arab Spring uprising. Hondros died several hours after suffering a head wound from a mortar attack.
An award-winning photojournalist, Hondros covered many of the world’s major conflicts after graduating from NC State. He covered wars and the struggles of daily life in Kosovo and Macedonia/Albania, Angola, Sierra Leone, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kashmir, the West Bank, Iraq, Cuba, Pakistan, Nigeria, Liberia and ultimately Libya for more than a decade. His work was featured on the front pages of The New York Times and the Washington Post, among other outlets. Because of his work in Liberia, Hondros was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News Photography in 2004. In 2005, he won the Robert Capa Gold Medal, awarded to the “best published photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise,” according to the Overseas Press Club of America. He was nominated posthumously for a Pulitzer Prize again in 2012 for his coverage of the Arab Spring.
Greg Campbell, a friend and colleague of Hondros, spoke at the Washington event about Hondros’ effect on the profession of war photojournalism and about the lives Hondros touched around the world. Campbell said it is a bittersweet memory that the first assignment he and Hondros worked on together was for Technician in Washington, D.C., covering President Bill Clinton’s inauguration. Although the two did not have press credentials, they managed to bluff their way through the press registration area and obtained two all-access passes.
“It’s meaningful to stand here, reflecting on my time with Chris, back here where it all started,” Campbell said. “[Hondros] had an incredible amount of innate ability. … He also had an unbelievable dedication to the story. … He had this amazing amount of confidence.”
Campbell said Hondros’ talent was not simply a fluke, but that he worked harder than anyone else to do the things he wanted to do. “It was a part of who he was,” Campbell said. “It was a part of his character. Chris developed a personal style. Chris had this sort of boundless optimism and need to gain knowledge — he was very curious. He had that ability to bring out the common human thread that runs through us.”
Chancellor Randy Woodson said he heard of Hondros during his first week as chancellor while visiting the Gregg Museum, which was displaying some of Hondros’ photographs. At the reception, Woodson presented a gift to Inge Hondros, Hondros’ mother. Woodson said Inge Hondros and some of her son’s friends are creating the Chris Hondros Memorial Scholarship Endowment* to help NC State students pursue study abroad programs.
Six photographs by Hondros were on display, courtesy of the Gregg Museum. At NC State, students, faculty, staff and alumni who wish to view some of Hondros’ photographs may visit the Park Alumni Center, which houses 14 of his works. Campbell is currently directing a documentary about Hondros’ life and work, titled “Hondros: A Life in Frames.” More information about Hondros and about Campbell’s documentary can be found at chrishondrosfilm.com.
A group of Hondros’ friends has made gifts toward the goal of creating the Chris Hondros Memorial Scholarship Endowment to support CHASS students who are studying abroad and who are committed to telling the stories of everyday people in difficult situations. To support this effort, make a gift to the Hondros Scholarship or contact Brandi_Orbin@ncsu.edu.
By Laura Wilkinson (’12, International Studies and Criminology). An earlier version of this article appeared in Technician, NC State’s student newspaper. Wilkinson is a former editor-in-chief of Technician and is currently a graduate student at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.