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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.

    So how does a FedEx pilot end up on the front lines of a revolution in Maidan? Estabrook received a Bachelor of Science in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, while also covering the music scene in Texas for several publications. 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.

    But before he left Austin, he took a Russian history class from professor Oliver Radke, who earned his doctorate from Harvard, after spending his early years in Russia getting to know Lenin's widow. She shared his deathbed diary with Radke, who copied it and translated it into his thesis. Radke told Estabrook which stack to go to at the Main Library in the Administration building to find and read it.

    Trotsky visited Lenin on his death bed. The two previously experienced a falling out, but Trotsky wanted to visit his old friend before he died. Lenin begged Trotsky to interrupt the election of Stalin but it was too late. Stalin learned Trotsky was back in town and moved up the Party agenda on the schedule. By the time Trotsky showed up, it was too late. Stalin chased Trotsky all the way to Mexico where he was assasinated.


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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