Feature

Marie Colvin, 1956–2012

The war reporter determined to bear witness

The night before she died, Marie Colvin did what had long made her legendary among veteran war correspondents: She reported from a conflict in a place few others dared to go. Speaking to CNN’s Anderson Cooper from the besieged city of Homs, Syria, Colvin described how she’d just watched a baby die of shrapnel wounds suffered in a government attack. Hopefully, she said, that baby “will move more people to think, ‘What is going on, and why is no one stopping this murder in Homs that is happening every day?’” The next day, she was killed, along with French photographer Rémi Ochlik, when government shells hit the building where she was staying.

Born in Oyster Bay, N.Y., Colvin fell in love with journalism while working on the student paper at Yale University, said the London Guardian. She began her career with United Press International in New York and Paris before joining The Sunday Times in London. During her 25 years reporting for the paper, she covered the Iran-Iraq War, the Palestinian intifadas, and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Chechnya, the Balkans, and Libya, said The Sunday Times. In 1999, she and two other female reporters insisted on staying in a U.N. compound in East Timor in order to prevent the massacre of 1,500 women and children who had taken refuge there. Two years later, she was the first foreign reporter to reach a rebel stronghold in Sri Lanka, where she discovered a harrowing refugee crisis. After losing an eye there in a grenade attack, she took to wearing a signature black eye patch that lent her a swashbuckling air; for parties, she wore one studded with rhinestones.

She was tougher and more courageous than most correspondents, but her humor and charm were also legendary, said the Financial Times. She threw great parties, “mixed a mean vodka martini, smoked excessively,” and loved ocean sailing. Her friends always feared for her safety, but she was committed to telling the stories of war. Being a war correspondent “is the best job in the world,” she said. “You can really feel you make a difference.”

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