On the 4th of June, Pulitzer prize winning photographer Anja Niedringhaus was in Afghanistan, flying in a medevac helicopter while covering the war. The unit was called to the scene of an explosion, and there picked up a number of wounded Marines, including Burness Britt, a gravely injured man who would leaving a lasting impact on the photographer. Hit by shrapnel while leading his squad through a wheat field, Anja held his hand while medics kept him alive through the flight, pocketing a slim strand of wheat stuck to his shirt.
Now, more than six months of searching later, she has finally fulfilled a silent promise to herself to find that Marine, and give him that piece of wheat. As Niedringhaus explains, in the few minutes they were together, Britt formed a deep impression on her, and she undertook the arduous process of tracking him down. Through AP staff in the USA, Facebook, and some good old-fashioned detective work, she investigated many a dead end before finally tracking him down to Hunter Holmes Medical Center in Richmond, Va., where he’s recovering from his wounds.
Now able to speak again after a stroke, paralysis, extensive surgery and a medically induced coma, it’s astonishing how much of an impact he had on an experienced war photographer, one who had seen 20 years of conflict. Niedringhaus admits that no one else she has seen in her years had left a greater impression on her than Britt, and she did everything she could to reconnect with a man that she only met for a few minutes minutes, while in a helicopter in the war-torn skies of Afghanistan.
Britt now has a new good luck charm, a single piece of wheat which followed him around the globe in the hands of a photographer.