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    (COLOGNE, GERMANY) 19FEB2014 -- FedEx Airbus captain Mark Estabrook was lying in his hospital bed when his surgeon told him he couldn't guarantee he would get to keep his lower left leg. It was almost gangrene when he arrived at the hospital. Antibiotics were immediately started through an IV drip. The surgeon was more concerned about keeping his operating room sterile than he was about keeping Mark's leg. Estabrook was also hit in the right shoulder with only slight infection.

    "It is likely the Berkut contaminated the grenades before they threw them," the surgeon told Mark. 

    The first grenade ricocheted off his helmet and was immediately followed by the second which hit his leg. The helmet and bullet proof vest most likely saved his life, as a Euromaidan protester near him bled out on the spot after a direct hit to his carotid artery,

    The surgery lasted almost three hours, and yes, Estabrook got to keep his leg.

    His fascination with photography crystallized when he was in high school. Annie Leibovitz's work was always showing up in Rolling Stone. This was the era for rock. Annie never published a photograph that Mark didn't like. 

    "I was so jealous of her work. She knew what she was doing. The whole idea of capturing rock legends doing their thing appealed to me," Mark recalled. "Of course, she had the kind of access to the bands that one could only dream about."

    Mark earned an appointment to the Air Force Academy but turned it down at the last minute and applied to film school at the University of Texas.

    "I soon learned you needed money to shoot 16-mm films. Since I didn't have any, I shot photography whenever I could. I decided to start shooting music. I mean, why not?"

    He received his first legitimate press pass from the Daily Texan and a few more from some small gazettes in Austin after he shot Paul McCartney in Fort Worth in 1976, while winning a Nikkormat ELW in a radio station photography competition in the process. For the next two years he gained access to as many shows as he could in between classes and homework.

    While at UT Mark took Russian History from Professor Oliver Radke, who earned his doctorate from Harvard after spending his early years in Moscow getting to know Lenin's widow. She shared his deathbed diary with Radke, who copied it and translated it into his thesis before Stalin learned of it and directed the OGPU to seize it. Radke, in his eighties by then, shared lunch with Estabrook one day. Radke instructed Estabrook which stack to go to at the Main Library in the Administration building to find and read it.

    According to Radke, Trotsky visited Lenin shortly before his death. The two previously experienced a falling out, but Trotsky wanted to visit his old friend before he died. Lenin, a murderous bastard in his own right, made Trotsky promise to oppose Stalin at the next Party Congress because he thought Stalin mentally unstable. Stalin learned Trotsky was planning on opposing him and adjusted the Party agenda accordingly. By the time Trotsky showed up at the Congress, it was too late. Stalin had already been elected. Besides arranging for Trotsky's expulsion from the Party, Stalin remained paranoid of Trotsky for decades and secured his assassination in Mexico in 1940. Shortly after The Wall and Soviet Union fell, Michail Gorbachev learned from declassified KBB files that Lenin had warned Trotsky of Stalin's mental instability. He lamented this fact was withheld from generations of Soviets and could have changed the course of history.

    "Here I was an undergraduate student at UT in the late seventies with knowledge about Stalin that Gorbachev himself did not know," Estabrook said. "Radke really did influence my view of world history at a young age." 

He began flying lessons during his senior year of college and had to choose between shooting a documentary with Stevie Ray Vaughan or continuing flying lessons. After a chance encounter with Gene Roddenberry in Austin, Roddenberry encouraged Mark to pursue a flying career over film. Roddenberry was a former B-17 pilot in WWII and an airline pilot before starting a TV career in Los Angeles.

Mark was selected to  study photography under Garry Winogrand in the UT Art Department, which made an impact on Mark's previous shooting genre and style. He quickly lost interest in shooting rock 'n' roll in favor of the street. Gone were the spotlights in dark theaters with cranky stage managers in favor of sunlight in the streets with people of the world as his canvas. At this same time his roommate received his 

flight instructor rating from the FAA. He wanted to add flight hours to his logbook and was willing to forego his hourly instruction fee. Estabrook seized the opportunity and moved to Dallas to fabricate aluminum and rent airplanes for flying lessons.



being smuggled through police lines and taken to the airport, where he concealed his bleeding all of the way to surgery in a Cologne, Germany hospital.

    Know that the people who protested and fought in Maidan were good people. Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians do grab the headlines and are noted for their corrupt ways, but the people who stood up to them were brave. Many people were wounded and killed. No matter what group or background they came from, they put their differences aside to acquire freedom from a corrupt regime with close ties to Moscow. Never forget the Obama administration ignored their cries for help while the Clinton, Biden and Kerry families exploited them.

    Mark is creating a "rough cut" below for a book, with expanding photos sampling his experience in Kyiv. Make sure you click the arrows in the upper left corner of the first frame to view the photos in full-screen for maximum resolution. Enjoy!

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