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Two Award-Winning Brooklyn Photojournalists Killed In Libya

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Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington. (credit: Stringer/Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington. (credit: Stringer/Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - Two journalists who called Brooklyn their home were killed in  action Wednesday in Libya.

Tim Hetherington was nominated for an Oscar for his hard-hitting documentary “Restrepo,” about the struggles of soldiers fighting at a remote outpost in Afghanistan. You can watch a video Hetherington made called “Diary” that documented his experiences in combat zones by clicking here.

If you’ve been a long-time user of CBSNewYork.com, you’re familiar with photographer Chris Hondros’ work. His photos for Getty Images have adorned hundreds of stories on the site. Hondros had previously won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for his war photography, one of the highest honors of its kind.

The New York City flag is seen at half-staff over Borough Hall - Brooklyn, NY - Apr 21, 2011 (credit: Brooklyn Borough President's Office)

The New York City flag is seen at half-staff over Borough Hall - Brooklyn, NY - Apr 21, 2011 (credit: Brooklyn Borough President's Office)

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz announced that the New York City flag over Brooklyn Borough Hall had been lowered to half-staff on Thursday in their memory.

“I hope the loved ones of both of these brave men will be comforted by the prayers and thoughts of all of us grateful for their professional sacrifice,”  Markowitz said in a statement.

Both men were killed while covering the fighting between Moammar Gadhafi’s forces and rebels in the Libyan city of Misrata.

Details of their deaths are sketchy, but some manner of explosive round, fired either from a mortar or rocket-propelled grenade, exploded and caused the fatal wounds.

In Washington, the White House expressed sadness over the attack and called on Libya and other governments to take steps to protect journalists.

“Journalists across the globe risk their lives each day to keep us informed, demand accountability from world leaders and give a voice to those who would not otherwise be heard,” press secretary Jay Carney said.

Hondros, 41, had covered conflict zones since the late 1990s, capturing clutching, jeering and fearful moments from wars including Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

One front-page New York Times photo from 2007 showed a Humvee patrol in Iraq from a different angle: The ruddy hands of an Iraqi interpreter and a pair of muddied boots belonging to a gunner.

“He has an intimacy in his work,” said Swayne Hall, a longtime friend who works as a photo editor with The Associated Press. “Some people will use a long lens so they don’t have to get up close. But Chris will get up close, he’s just not afraid to be with whatever he’s photographing.”

Hondros had an apartment on Bridge Street in Brooklyn. Neighbors expressed great sadness at the news.

“I just think it’s a really unfortunate story. I just heard this morning that he was engaged and his fiance, I imagine, lived here too. So it’s certainly very sad,” Erin Turner said.

Former colleagues said Hondros had a good attitude, a great eye for detail and a personable nature.

“He is highly intelligent, and he knows the big picture of world events. And that helped him so much,” said former boss Johnny Horne of the Fayetteville Observer, where Hondros worked from 1996 to 1998. “Chris was able to make a connection with people.”

Paul Woolverton, a friend who was with the family in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said Hondros moved to New York City and saved his money working as a night editor for the AP in order to get overseas.

“He went to the city to pursue his dream, and he got it,” Woolverton said.

Hondros was born in New York City and moved to Fayetteville as a child. He studied English literature at North Carolina State and got a master’s degree at Ohio’s School of Visual Communications. After working for the Observer and the AP, he freelanced and eventually became senior staff photographer at Getty.

“He quickly became the photographer who was just special, really special,” Hall said. “Our friends would always talk about the fact that he had such a big fun personality, and the skills.”

Hondros was planning to be married this summer to a former photo editor-turned attorney, Christina Piaia. He is survived by a brother, Dean and his mother, Inge.

Hetherington, 40, was killed a day after he tweeted: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”

“Tim was in Libya to continue his ongoing multimedia project to highlight humanitarian issues during time of war and conflict,” Hetherington’s family said in a statement. “He will be forever missed.”

Heatherington had a place on Kent Avenue.

“It’s just sort of shocking because no matter how far away things seem, our actions here and our actions everywhere — everything affects everything else,” Heatherington’s neighbor, Rory Chartreuse, said.

Hetherington was nominated for an Academy Award for his 2010 documentary film “Restrepo.” The film was co-directed by Sebastian Junger, author of “The Perfect Storm.”

“He was an amazing talent and special human being,” Sundance Institute spokeswoman Brooks Addicott said in a statement. “We send our sincere condolences to the Hetherington family, to Sebastian Junger and Daniela Petrova, and to Tim’s many admirers all over the world.”

Hetherington was born in Liverpool and studied literature and photojournalism at Oxford University. Known for his gutsy ability to capture conflict zones on film, his credits included working as a cameraman on the documentaries “Liberia: An Uncivil War” and “The Devil Came on Horseback.” He also produced pieces for ABC News’ “Nightline.”

Hetherington’s photos appeared in Vanity Fair magazine, where he worked as a contributing photographer. He won the World Press Photo of the Year award for his coverage of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.

The bodies of Hondros and Hetherington were to be shipped out on the Ionian Spirit, a passenger ferry that had just delivered food and medical supplies to Misrata, said Human Rights Watch spokeswoman Emma Daly.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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