Colvin recalled as "courageous" witness for world

Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin photographed in Tahrir square in Cairo.
AP Photo/Ivor Prickett Sunday Times
American, French reporters killed in Syria
Sunday Times journalist Marie Colvin photographed in Tahrir square in Cairo.
AP Photo/Ivor Prickett Sunday Times

This was written by CBS Radio News correspondent Vicki Barker.

Marie Colvin and I started out at UPI together in the 1980s. I am so sad and sick at her loss. It is the bombardments of the city of Homs that drew Marie Colvin back into Syria. And it was those bombardments that ended her life.

Witnesses say Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik were killed when the house they'd been sheltering in took a direct hit. Colvin was a revered war correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times.

Colvin gave a harrowing telephone interview to BBC radio from Homs just days her death in which she recounted watching a baby die from the shelling.

American, French journalists killed in Syria
Marie Colvin focused reporting on women, children
Syria blogger reportedly killed in shelling

There are reporters who can cover the pathos of a baby's death, without the forensic details, or the details without capturing the pathos. Marie Colvin was that rare journalist who could do both.

Today, Britons are mourning an American they came to think of as their own. Prime Minister David Cameron is leading the tributes.

"This is a desperately sad reminder of the risks journalists take to inform the world of what is happening, and the dreadful events in Syria, and our thoughts should be with her family and with her friends," Cameron said.

One of those friends was Britain's former Defense Secretary John Reid who said "[she] was courageous, she was brave and she was committed. She made enormous sacrifices in order that we might find out what is going on in some of these conflicts."

And they weren't just abstract sacrifices. Colvin lost an eye covering the civil war in Sri Lanka about 10 years ago and later suffered severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Her colleague, Anthony Lloyd, explained "after she lost her eye ... I think many people questioned 'Will Marie go back?' But she was exceptionally brave and more than just being an identity to her, this job, she believed totally in."

After Sri Lanka, she wore a black eye patch, which lent this lean and elegant woman a vaguely piratical air. The last time we met was in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, last year - she gave me tips on how to elude the government minders.

Oh, and, by the way, Muammar Qaddafi was just one of the powerful, dangerous or colorful characters who would always take Marie's calls. Before she slipped across the border into Syria, she told a friend she had a bad feeling about Homs.

But she said she felt she needed to tell this story. I know Marie would say that the deaths of those civilians trapped in Homs are far more newsworthy than her own - a journalist who chose to be there. But journalism has just lost one of its most courageous and clear-eyed witnesses.

And her readers have lost a window into worlds few ever dare to tread, let alone describe. And that's worth taking a minute to memorialize, and mourn.