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May-03-2009 16:05printcommentsVideo

Combat Photojournalist Suicide: The Price of Conflict is Too High

Sometimes the chickens come home to roost; my friend, an incredibly talented war photographer, is another war statistic.

Caleb
Caleb "Shooter" Schaber

(SALEM, Ore.) - My friend Caleb Schaber killed himself April 17th. He was an amazing, far-reaching, eclectic artist, archaeologist and war photojournalist and I suspect that his time covering the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are what led to this.

I suspect that, but I don't know and possibly never will. I just know that some people have tremendous strength and endurance and general survivability even in the worst conditions. This is Caleb's story, and he was one of the strongest and most daring human beings I ever knew. It does not make sense that he shot himself in a remote location in Nevada.

Apparently his girlfriend at the time is the only witness to his gunshot "suicide". She has taken his laptop that contains all of his manuscripts and war images to Canada. It is the rightful property of his father, Professor Kenneth Schaber, who became the executor of Caleb's estate when he went to Iraq.

The love of Caleb's life was not this woman.

I know who he was in love with; it is one sad story on top of another.

Caleb Schaber and Tim King in the summer of 2007

She was someone who wanted nothing to do with a significant other who spent his time on the battlefield covering man's most desperate moments, regardless of how much she actually cared about him.

When Caleb was covering the action overseas he did crazy stuff like working as a bartender in Kabul. (Afghanistan is technically a dry country) When he went to Iraq he caught a ride and landed in-country without permission to have entered the combat zone.

That takes guts. I know some people won't understand, but when you work in news, particularly television news, you tend to live by the code that "It's better to seek forgiveness than permission" and I know of no individual who tops Caleb when it comes to using that code at the most extreme level.

There is so much to say about Caleb "Shooter" Schaber; I resolve to never letting his memory die. There are so few of us who have spent time covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan! If you make it back you should be good, at least until the next time you go in-country.

I will write more about him after I have been able to reach his dad and get the latest information. I am sad and sorry. I spend my life studying the lives of combat photojournalists from past wars, which are often but not always tragic stories.

We know that the war in Iraq has claimed the lives of more reporters and photographers than any war in the past, and it just took another one. This is a sad accompaniment to the endless stories about veterans committing suicide.

Caleb, we were going back over there man, remember? What happened? I'm mad at you but I'm not sure you are even responsible for this. I've known far too many deputies in rural places who quickly deem homicides to be suicides. I promise I will look into it. You had far too much to offer the world to see it end like this...

Only respectful comments will be approved on this story.

Here is one of Caleb's casual and cool video pieces shot from a gunship flying near Mosul, Iraq:


_________________________________
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), the first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several other awards including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Hanah Baab October 24, 2013 10:09 pm (Pacific time)

I look at this page and video daily. Caleb is my first cousin and I will miss him forever. He's the greatest most inspirational person that I had in my life. He inspired me to let out an artistic side of myself. I love you Caleb I bet your wings are big and vibrant.


Skeets & Charlotte Chappell October 30, 2012 6:52 pm (Pacific time)

We just found out about Caleb,we have known Caleb for over 20 years. Skeets was his guitar teacher in St.Jo Mi. and we have been friends since, I had not heard from him in awhile,(which was not unusual) we would get a letter or call,or dvds, cds, of his latest projects, so when we had not heard from him I started searching, and this is what I found, We just can't believe it, and are devastated ! We loved Caleb and are so grateful that he sent us his movies and news articles we still have a part of him. Thanks for writing this about him, and if you get any more news about him, could you please let us know, Skeets and Charlotte, lottie2758@yahoo.com

Tim King: I sure will, view it as an unresolved case please too, very sad and Caleb is on our minds frequently, thanks for writing.


Jen Ralston May 7, 2012 10:48 pm (Pacific time)

Tim, thank you for writing this story. I worked with Caleb in a movie theatre in Seattle during the time he jumped off the Aurora Bridge. We hung out quite a bit and I am devestated to have just found out about his death. He was a great artist, a cool person and I just can't believe this. I did know him to go through periods of depression, but for the most part he was too busy to be that way. I am proud of Caleb for being able to go in and be a photojournalist during war. That takes guts. R.I.P. Caleb.


Lauren February 4, 2012 10:14 am (Pacific time)

Thank you for writing this story. Caleb was a larger-than-life person. If you have any follow-up stories on him, I'd love to read them. I'm in shock that he's been gone almost 2 years and I didn't even know it. RIP Caleb.

Tim King A terrible loss Lauren, I hope to have more on Caleb's story because I for one don't accept this as a suicide.  Thank you.


Nobody May 18, 2009 9:15 am (Pacific time)

Thanks for sharing your views on Caleb, and the truth of what has/was going on after his death. As someone who knew him since childhood if you want to get the story of Caleb, please dive deep. His story is as complicated as they get. Keep the faith, bro!


Dove May 16, 2009 11:11 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you for your article on my friend, I am glad he has you as his friend and the statements you give are true to Caleb and his memory.


Hemingway May 5, 2009 1:42 pm (Pacific time)

To the POS who wrote this (deleted) cruel comment; I will catch up with you man, and you will be really sorry for the evil things you wrote about my friend.  You think I don't have your IP?   You can't hide forever.  I think that from this day forward you are a criminal and you will be treated as such.


Quiet Girl aka Susan B May 4, 2009 3:31 pm (Pacific time)

Hey there Tim!

My name is Susan Barron, and I knew Caleb for 8 years through our work writing and working for the BRC-DPW.

I also wrote two pieces on my friendship with Caleb at my blog, Touching An American Sky: eightyfeettall.com/touchanamericansky/

Caleb inspired me to do many things, and I did the same for him. He was a good friend to me, a real brother.


Dude May 4, 2009 9:30 am (Pacific time)

You know most of these "suicides" by the troops are homicides right? Look what they did to Pat Tillman.


Allan Erickson May 4, 2009 7:08 am (Pacific time)

My sincere condolences Tim. When I came back from my SE Asia tour in '74 I didn't know that I would eventually feel remorse that I didn't go to the 'Nam. I knew/know so many combat vets that I felt bad that I spent my year in luscious Thailand. Finally one of my vet buddies told me, "Al, we're glad you didn't go to VN, too many of us went as it is." Honor your friend's memory my young brother. As I know you will...


Anonymous May 3, 2009 10:38 pm (Pacific time)

I am sorry to hear about your friend Tim. I forget where I read it but I read that typically it is the genuinely good people that often do this. Seeing the things they do is often times too much for them to handle and they play it back and forth in their heads. My dad's friend, and you could say mine too toured in Iraq and has a few stories that he has told us. He calls up my father sometimes in the late hours telling him that he just has to tell someone about what he saw. I guess it's his form of venting, which is a good thing. This man probably saw things he never should have seen and it was too much to handle. Hopefully you find what you are looking for Tim.


Henry Ruark May 3, 2009 8:28 pm (Pacific time)

To all: Never, ever, forget that our Iraq attack was premeditated, preemptive, preposterous and presumed millions of Americans were preeminently so apathetic and preoccupied they could be persuaded by permeating lies deep enough to permit it to happen --as it did. We all who remained quiet as this took place must share in our interior guilt for these consequences, foreseen or not.

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