Family Tradition: War Junkies

There is no escape for any of us. Peace and age kill just as surely as war. But in war exists the fantasy of a surprise, sudden and instantly fatal bullet one day – nothing too protracted. One shot to clear the tray marked ‘pending pain’. The thought is a powerful tranquilizer, anesthetizing the reality of so many concerns, preserving my suspension in a place between worlds. No more goodbyes.- Anthony Loyd

Anthony William Vivian Loyd was born in 1966, and grew up in Churt, England.  He attended various private schools or public schools depending on which side of the ocean one resides, and seemingly had every advantage afforded him to ensure a slow, dull, money crusted slide into oblivion.

Two things went very wrong.

First, he came to hate his Father.

Second, he was related to, in fact the great-grandson of Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963)

Hating ones father has been proven (by science!) to be the core motivation behind many a famous mans over achievement.  Conversely, it has also been proven (by science!) to mean nothing.  In this case, the first scenario prevailed.

Now if it’s been proven that having a crappy father can cause a man to desire a kind of success not found on the well-worn path, it’s also been proven (by science!) that being a relative,  of the  man who invented both “self amputation by biting ones own hand to get back into battle” and “generalized face punching” gives you not only the balls to want to be scared to death for a living but also the keen ability to do this without actually fucking dying.

Anthony Loyd joined the British army in order to see war.  It was a theme amongst men in his family and both his grandfathers and great-grandfather had been decorated military men, if not for very different reasons, at some point in their lives.

Loyd, like many others, since the end of Vietnam until somewhere around 2001, saw little of what he had been in search of.  Although having served in both Northern Ireland and the first Gulf war, he left the army after nearly five years feeling disappointed and without any of the answers he had hope to find.

Enter Bosnia and Herzegovina- In 1992 all of Europe was watching, yet pretending not to watch, as the former Yugoslavia fell into shambles.  Realizing that “this was it” Loyd, who had just finished a “post graduate photo journalism course” despite not having been a graduate, loaded some things into a friend’s car and off he went.

Starting out as a “lost in the sauce” photographer, Loyd began, simply by luck, selling photos he snapped for 50 Deutsch marks a piece and then later, subbing for another wounded reported, he began his writing career.

In his first memoir, Loyd successfully addressed both his addiction to war and his addiction to heroin.  My War gone by I miss it So, put Anthony Loyd on the map in fantastic fashion.  And it secured him a position as one of the premier war reporters in the world.  In it, Loyd covers conflicts from Sarajevo all the way to Chechnya and the fall of Grozny.  He addresses his addiction to gear “War was for work, Heroin was for holidays.” and he give us a voyeuristic hit off it all in shockingly good form.

Some men, might have stopped there.  He had escaped the clutches of death many times.  He had witnessed the deaths of others and he had even aided in the saving of a young girls life.  He had possibly answered some questions and had certainly found what it was he was looking for….

…but when you’re the great-grandson of the man who invented not giving a fuck, you don’t get to feel satisfied.

Another Bloody Love Letter was published in 2007.  In this Loyd goes on to chronicle not only his war with addiction while at home in London, but he also explains in detail the death of his best friend- war correspondent great and former Reuters reporter Kurt Schork.

Schork and Loyd became fast friends while working together in Bosnia, but during a period of separation in May of 2000, Schork was killed on a road during an ambush in Sierre Lionne.  Much of Another bloody Love Letter is Loyd dealing with this loss, a year later, while reporting from the same dangerous jungle that stole his friend from him.

Both books are telling and intense.  They teach us much, but if read with care, one walks away with more answers than before.  A theme that seems to permeate Anthony Loyd’s life.

Both Great-Grandfather and Great- Grandson, although never having met, turned their backs on landed aristocracy, and sought their answers elsewhere.

It seems to be a bit of a Family Tradition.

“I couldn’t not give a fuck any harder. Ever. It’s in my DNA.”

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