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Behind the camera of war: QCN photojournalist recalls covering War in Afghanistan



CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — He’s the guy you never see on TV, but Queen City News photojournalist Brian Christiansen plays a key role in bringing you Charlotte’s headlines.

“Not all veterans are that lucky to do what they love to do.”

It wasn’t too long ago, however, that Brian was telling much different stories.

“My job was to document Air Force soldiers working with the Afghan Air Force officials every day.”

Heading into a war-torn nation isn’t something most people do willingly, but Brian begged to go. He documented U.S. troops training the Afghan Airforce in Kabul.

“I would occasionally teach photography lessons for these guys so when we left they could continue that and preserve their history.”

Most veterans have days that are forever etched in their memory. The day etched in Brian’s memory is April 27, 2011.

“One of those trusted Afghan pilots working with some of our people got into a disagreement, left the room, came back into the room with a gun and shot and killed nine of our people… I remember hearing over the radio, confirmed nine K-I-A… It was so incredibly silent in that moment, the two guys that were on the radio came out of the office and they both kneel down right in front of me and started praying.”

A horrific moment, captured for eternity.

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“That was the one time I questioned myself, why in the world am I here?”

Photographing those memorials and even more stateside, equally as difficult.

“I have people who reach out afterwards and say thank you for being there, that’s what made it worth [it], that’s what made it worth going back and helping with those [memorials].”

Brian says when Afghanistan fell under Taliban control again last year, it was soul-crushing for him and other veterans.

“Mad, sad, betrayed, angry.”

The time, the effort, the lives lost trying to help the country to independence.

“I’ve not felt this way in about ten years.”

As turmoil continues overseas, and political battles heat up here at home, Brian asks that we all just do one thing.

“Right now, don’t get wrapped up in the politics of all this, just be thinking about those people, pray for those people. The ones who understand what freedom truly is and they are trying to escape that country so they can have freedom.”

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