PAUL MORAN 1963 - 2003
Paul William Moran was born in Adelaide, Australia, on May 30, 1963, the youngest of the four children, all boys, of Gerry and Kath Moran. Theirs was a close family in which love, Christian values and discipline prevailed. Paul had a typical Australian upbringing of plenty of outdoor activity, especially sport, and also summers at the nearby beach. It gave him a love of life.
Most of his education was at Sacred Heart College, a five-minute bicycle ride away from home. His headmaster at the time recalls him as an incurable optimist. He acted on the premise that whatever he undertook would be successful, he said. Paul was an adventurous and spirited boy whose early passion was photography and one that was to determine his working life. His first job, at the age of 18, was as an office boy at a local TV station and from there he soon graduated to cameraman.
Like many young Australians of his generation, Paul wanted to go overseas to see the world. His first choice was the United States where he did a variety of jobs ranging from delivering pizza to working for a small-town TV station. He also did TV work in Washington, the hub of global politics and power, which were to intrigue him.
In 1990, Paul moved on to London and it was here that he made his initial Middle East contacts which were to inspire his interest in this region. Later that year, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, he was recruited for his technical expertise to work for an exiled TV service to beam news back to occupied Kuwait. The Middle East was now very much his home and he was entranced by its peoples, history and cultures. He preferred the independent life of a freelancer, shooting and editing news stories and producing features. He travelled widely, gathering friends everywhere.
He had a natural empathy with the oppressed and the underdog. The historic plight of the Kurds in Northern Iraq and Iran and their quest for a state of their own moved him. So did the plight of refugees from Africa and elsewhere who, seeking a better life in Europe, had found themselves washed up and imprisoned in Cyprus. Paul was far more concerned about humanity than money or material gain. He believed the best in people. This, a boyish charm, his charisma and a cheerful attitude in whatever the circumstances seemingly endeared him to everyone he met.
In Cyprus, he met what was to become the love of his life - a beautiful pharmacist from Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia, Ivana Rapajic. They moved to Bahrain where Paul worked for international news organisations, including the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as a reporter/cameraman. His father had worked as a technical supervisor for the ABC in Adelaide and Paul, by now married to Ivana and living in Paris, decided he also wanted a career with the ABC.
By coincidence, in late 2002 with a war in Iraq looming, the ABC approached Paul to work as its cameraman/editor in Northern Iraq in view of his extensive knowledge and experience there. He leapt at the opportunity provided it did not conflict with another happy event in his life, the arrival of his first child. On February 3, 2003, a baby girl arrived. Paul and Ivana named her Tara Alexandra. The following month, after much thought, Paul decided he was ready to move to Northern Iraq for the ABC. There he linked up with an experienced ABC foreign correspondent, Eric Campbell, himself a new father for the first time. They filed several reports and by all accounts thrived in what they were doing despite the hardships and omnipresent dangers as the war finally began.
On March 22, 2003, they travelled from the nominal Kurdish capital of Sulaymaniyah to visit the base of an extremist group, Ansar Al-Islam, which US missiles had hit the previous night. Just as they completed their filming, there was some sudden commotion outside the base. Paul instinctively ran to get some shots. At that very moment, a car screeched up alongside him and others and exploded. It was a suicide bomber. Paul stood no chance. He was killed instantly, the first international media casualty of the war. He was just 39. My total loss, said a distraught Ivana. The news of his death was greeted with disbelief; such was his larger-than-life character, his apparent indestructibility and the widespread personal and professional regard, admiration and love for him. Scores of messages from so many people in so many countries all noted his great sense of humanity.
A poignant letter from Daniel Blair, an American friend working in Saudi Arabia, to Tara summed up the feelings of many. He wrote: I feel very blessed to have known a man as compassionate and loving as Paul and, if you grow up to be half the person your father was in life, you will have accomplished a great deal more than most people. Ivana flew immediately to Iran to meet the body of her beloved husband after it was repatriated from Northern Iraq. She then accompanied it back to Adelaide, where Paul was laid to rest alongside his father, Gerry, who had died two years earlier. Ivana takes comfort in her fervent belief that Paul is watching over Tara s progress like a guardian angel. Paul is with us all the time in spirit, she says. I can feel his strength helping us. Paul William Moran 1963-2003.
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