James Foley's friend remembers his love for journalism

(NEWS CENTER) -- The day James Foley went missing, he was supposed to meet freelance photographer Nicole Tung on the border with Turkey. The two had spent six onths travelling around Syria together, telling the stories of people in Aleppo. He was a videographer. She is a still photographer. They split up, and intended to meet on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Tung said she knew something was wrong when he didn't show up on time, and then didn't answer her phone calls.

Ever since that day, Tung said, "I've thought about him a lot, and just wondered if he's physically OK and if he was being treated alright. If he was being tortured, if he was being fed enough, all that stuff that runs through your mind. I guess, up until this point, until today, we had hoped there would be the best possible outcome. But obviously, for political reasons, it's just not the case."

Tung said Foley was a great partner to travel with.

"He was a really personable guy," she said. "He made friends super-easy. And he was always the one to break the ice when we went into new situations, which was a lot. Very intelligent, he loved literature. He was just amazingly smart and a well-rounded person."

She also remembered a time when he was moved to do more than tell the story.

"There was a hospital we were covering for a time in Aleppo in 2012, and he saw that they weren't properly equipped. They didn't have any ambulances. They were transporting patients with civilian cars, and it prompted him to bring some of our journalist colleagues together, myself included, to raise money for an ambulance to give to the hospital. And he achieved that goal, which was amazing. It wasn't easy to raise $10 grand, and so that was his initiative. That was the kind of person he was. He had a keen sense of what had to go beyond the story."

Foley had been captured once before, in 2011, and he understood the risks involved in working in Syria. Tung said she thinks Foley would want people to focus on Syria, and not the brutality of his death.

"People need to realize this is still going on in Syria and not forget. I think that's what he'd want people to know. And I think he'd also want people to know that journalists should keep doing their jobs because I don't think he ever shied away from it because of its dangers," she said.

"I hope that people remember James not from today, but from the work that he's done. And for the work that he was advocating for journalists to do, which was to cover the uncovered stories." said Tung.


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