Kurt Pitzer remembers a fourteen-year-old warlord and learning to ride a horse.
Question: What is your craziest story from Afghanistan?
Pitzer: When we were in Afghanistan, there was a warlord who was 14 years old, and he had just taken over his villages from his father who’d been killed just a couple of weeks before we met him. And he’s in a very remote region, just south of the Anjuman Pass where there was a dividing range between, that was Taliban held… there’s a series of hills that were Taliban held and a series of hills that were held by his villages. And he took us up to the place where his father had been sniped and made it a big point of pride to stand at the top of the mountain where his father had been shot a couple of weeks ago and sort of, almost daring the Taliban, who were shooting at us from the opposing hillside. You know, we were sort of ducking and covering but, you know, this young 14 year old who wanted to show us that he wasn’t afraid to stand in the exact spot where his father had been killed. And of course, the only way to get up there was on horseback, and I’m no equestrian but I was able to sort of hang on to this horse. The photographer that was with us, Irish photographer, was unable to ride a horse, so he was on a donkey, and it was terrifying. It was funny, ‘cause I was watching him on a donkey, but it’s terrifying because they were shooting at us and he was, his name is Seamus, and he’s a fantastic photographer who later became a great equestrian because he’d learned his lesson in Afghanistan.