Former OSU student and NPR photojournalist David Gilkey was killed June 5 while on assignment in Afghanistan. Gilkey and NPR translator Zabihullah Tamanna were traveling with an Afghan Army convoy when their vehicle was struck with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Gilkey followed in his father’s footsteps as an OSU photography student in the mid 1980s and worked as a photographer for The Daily Barometer. “David and Dick are both a part of a long and rich photographic tradition and legacy at OSU,” wrote Larry Landis, Director of Special Collections & Archives Research Center at Oregon State.
In an interview with NPR, Gilkey’s former Barometer associate and documentary photographer Cheryl Hatch said, “Well, he showed up freshman year and he knew exactly what he wanted to do. He was feisty?’”
After his days at OSU, Gilkey went on to report stories which traversed the breadth of humanity. He helped document conflict zones like Afghanistan and Iraq, the earthquake in Haiti, Ebola in Liberia, and dozens more difficult and disparate human events.
Michael Oreskes, NPR’s vice president for news, wrote, “As a man and as a photojournalist, David brought out the humanity of all those around him. He let us see the world and each other through his eyes.”
Gilkey worked to bring back more than photos. In 2010 Gilkey described his work in Haiti saying, “It’s not just reporting. It’s not just taking pictures. It’s ‘Do those visuals, do the stories, do they change somebody’s mind enough to take action?”
On behalf of the Advocate staff—and surely many more in our community and beyond—we are grateful for the life of Gilkey and cherish the work he lives on through. He dedicated a lifetime to his passion, stirring tenderness and truth in the eyes of many.
By Matthew Hunt