ZUMA Press contract photographer Toby Morris, who was shot by snipers and twice wounded on March 1 while covering American soldiers on patrol in Iraq, was discharged from an Army hospital in Landsthul, Germany, on Friday and has flown back to the United States, according to ZUMA Press director Scott Mc Kiernan.
In an eMail update Saturday, Mc Kiernan said "Toby's friends chipped in frequent flyer miles to get him the First Class seat required for his leg to be safe on the way home." Last week Morris wrote to Mc Kiernan, "I have to fly home commercial and I haven't made any plans yet. I think I have to fly First Class to give my leg breathing room. Not the way I finally wanted to fly First Class, but I guess it will have to do."
Mc Kiernan said that Morris told him, upon being back in the States: "I am definitely happy to be out of there. Getting a glass of orange juice from my pretty girlfriend is much better than getting a glass of juice from a surly male nurse in an Army uniform."
Morris wrote to Mc Kiernan that he had been shot in the left ankle, which broke some bones there, and that his left femur was shattered into several pieces. "I don't think my injuries are life-threatening, but I could still get an infection which could cost me my leg - but my understanding is that the odds are good that this is unlikely at this point."
ZUMA Press vice president of communications Sylvia Stewart said that one of the soldiers in the unit Morris was covering jumped into the line of fire to protect the photographer from additional injury. Today in his eMail to Mc Kiernan, Morris clarified which unit he was on patrol with when he was shot. "I was actually with Delta Company, 1st Platoon, when I got shot." First reports from the military had said Morris was with the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion of the 506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division's Charlie Company at the time of the sniper fire.
ZUMA Press says that Morris has been in Iraq for them since January covering coalition troops who are concentrating on uncovering and removing insurgents. Before his posting to Iraq, Morris had been shooting a long series of portraits of Hurricane Katrina victims and families in New Orleans.
ZUMA Press picture desk manager Ruaridh Stewart spoke with Morris after he was stabilized and in a field hospital, Stewart says, and reported that the photographer had been cheered by a visit from photojournalist James Nachtwey of Agency VII.