August 13th, 2010
08:04 AM ET

Friends pay tribute to aid workers killed in Afghanistan

They slowly walk through the gates of a British cemetery, some arm in arm, mostly women and some men dressed in Afghan garb.

They're here to honor Dr. Karen Woo, a 36-year-old British surgeon and one of 10 volunteer medical aid workers fatally shot in the remote mountains of northeast Afghanistan.

They pass tombstones of soldiers and civilians as they wander through the small graveyard set behind a tall concrete wall in a bustling part of Kabul.

The cemetery was built in 1879 as a burial site for British soldiers killed in the Anglo-Afghan wars. Its walls are covered with plaques memorializing recent and past deaths, including those of service members from the International Security Assistance Force.

Woo's fiance, Mark "Paddy" Smith, stands with friends, looking strong. The broad-shouldered Irishman works as a security analyst for the U.S. Agency for International Development. They were to be married August 20th. The last communication between them was a satellite phone call.

As the informal service begins, everyone turns off their cameras. Friends come forward and recall what made the surgeon special.

They place a small, wooden plaque on the wall at the far end of the cemetery. "5 August, 2010," it reads. "In loving memory of Dr. Karen Woo who was killed in Badakhshan along with her colleagues. They died for the Afghan people; their sacrifice will always be remembered."

Three young Afghan boys come forward with flowers wrapped in cellophane. They knew Woo.

As her friends come forward, Smith pays tribute to her.

"She was an incredible person who obviously touched many lives," Smith says. "She touched mine particularly. And I'm very thankful for that and I could feel that strength that she was sending me."

Others killed were six Americans, one German and two Afghans.

Two of the Americans will be buried in this cemetery: Dr. Tom Little, 61, head of the medical expedition to Nuristan, and his friend and colleague, 63-year-old Dan Terry. Both had spent more than three decades in Afghanistan.

The friends and colleagues slowly leave the cemetery, pausing to embrace one another.

The words read at the service linger in the air.

"When senseless tragedies such as this occur, when evil become manifest through the actions of those who would have Afghanistan return to the days of public executions, unchecked repression of women, and abject terror. When those who only wanted to do good and bring relief to the people of Afghanistan are shot down rather than lifted up, it can sometimes be our first reaction, at least I know it was mine, to think something along the lines of 'these people don't appreciate anything that we're trying to do for them. We should just leave this place and let them wallow in squalor.

... I refuse to allow this terrible thing that they have done to do anything other than cause me to redouble my resolve and efforts to assist the good people of Afghanistan to overcome the evil incarnate that is the Taliban."

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. dwight huth

    Yea dwight huth, how do you like it when some one steals your ID like you did the USMC Forever???? Not nice is it retard boy???I like your ID, I can say what ever I want and make YOU look stupid. You should have thought of that before You started stealing everyone elses ID, STUPID!!!!!! I just can't believe a retard like you would actually use YOUR REAL NAME, I'm laughing at the high level of intelligence, HA,HA,HAAAAAAAAAAAAA Beeeooooochhhh!!!!

    August 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. karpath

    Dudes! Get a grip on reality! ANY religion that musters a faith of ownership, that you, the believer, NEED to go out and OWN someone else is playing you for a fool. It's not an enlightened construct. It's dark and evil, malicious. All one has is his/ her self. Groupings, feeling bigger and safer being in a group tends to be deadly to our humanity. Trust and love yourself. That can be hard depending on upbringing. But, hey! C'mon we're really ALL in this together. So you're not alone. Feel free to be good, that universal good that promotes life and protects freedoms of expression. You know, tolerance of others which can build into understanding. I know we're still pretty far off from realizing our potential. So good luck to humanity, to us all.

    August 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  3. truth

    @Dan -some thing you don't own you don't have the right to give it as gift for other if you like to take our land to put into practice your holy bible ...so we are sorry we will not let you do that..and Jewish don't stay at tinny space go for Israel and see the kine est its like congress there and you will see at the top of it the map for the large Israel its from Iraq river to Nile river in Egypt wish mean most of the medal-east including Saudi Arabia our holy places... while we are talking now Israeli demo lit full Arab villages if you see its OK to put into practice your bible prophecy about Jesus return so let you and your bible go to hell

    August 14, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan in Lafayette,IN

    The Pahththon was never mentioned in any gospels that I have read in the three versions of the Bibles I've read.Boy the garbage you make up stinks to high heaven!

    August 14, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Joseph McCarthy

    I see that all these right-wing fanatics in Washington will come out and shed their alligator tears over these people.If the Communists won there 30 years ago,these people would still be alive.And Acmed or Evan,stop posting this obnoxious photo!!!

    August 13, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lees

    Godspeed to those who gave up their lives trying to do good in the world. I'm in awe of their spirit and courage. May they be an inspiration to all those who wallow in negativity and remind us that there are many people, and not just our soldiers, who are in harm's way doing important jobs 24/7 while life goes on back home.

    August 13, 2010 at 8:25 am | Report abuse |