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Book Summary: Saved – A War Reporter’s Mission to Make It Home

Saved (2023) is the gripping and timely account of a war correspondent’s near-fatal brush with combat in Ukraine in March of 2022 – and the extraordinary effort to save his life and bring him home.

Introduction: Discover an inspiring story of survival behind the news.

Kyiv, March 14, 2022. The team of Fox News journalists was returning from a morning of news-gathering when the second bomb tore through their car near the combat zone. Within moments, there were only two survivors. By the time the smoldering wreckage of their car was spotted from the road, there was just one.

Book Summary: Saved - A War Reporter’s Mission to Make It Home

This Blink tells the extraordinary story of what happened to that surviving journalist, Benjamin Hall – and the nearly impossible mission undertaken by an experienced team of specialists not just to keep him alive, but to get him out of Ukraine.

If you’re curious about what it really takes to report from the frontlines of global conflict, read on.

A Voice in the Dark

The first bomb had whizzed overhead and exploded a stand of birch and pine trees just 20 feet ahead of them. In the chaotic aftermath, experienced cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski had shouted for the driver to reverse direction, but the second bomb exploded before anyone could respond.

In the silence and darkness following the second explosion, correspondent Benjamin Hall stepped out of time. He felt no pain, no urgency – nothing at all. Slowly, he became aware of a familiar figure hovering before him. Then, he heard the voice of his young daughter urging him to get out of the car. Feeling her presence, he somehow understood he had to move if he was going to keep on living.

In shock and gravely injured, he summoned what strength he could for the grueling process of crawling out from the back seat of the car – just in time, in fact. Moments later, the third bomb exploded.

By some miracle, Ben had survived the bombs that destroyed the small red car used by the Fox News team – who, just weeks before, had arrived to cover the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. His colleague Pierre had also survived but was on the ground, bleeding out from an injury to his femoral artery.

Their situation was dire: so close to combat and far from the journalists’ home base in downtown Kyiv, the area around them was deserted. As Ben lapsed in and out of consciousness, he noticed that his injuries were significant. He also became aware that their car had rolled downhill off the main roadway and couldn’t even be seen from the road if a vehicle should pass. He would have to get someone’s attention if he had any hope of being rescued – and so he began slowly crawling upward in a desperate attempt to be seen.

After what seemed like hours, Ben at last heard a familiar sound. A car was approaching. In a final burst of energy, he began frantically waving, shouting, even throwing clumps of dirt – anything to attract attention. Soon, he felt a hand grab the back of his jacket and lift him up. In the blinding rush of pain that followed, his brain could only hold on to one thought: they’d been saved.

Waking Up

Unaware of who had plucked his broken body off the roadside, Ben remembers only fragmented images of what followed. Rumbling along in the back of a van, and then some sort of ambulance, he kept mumbling his name – that he was a journalist and an American, fearing he was in the hands of the Russians. Then he saw a hypodermic needle being jabbed into his arm, and he passed out.

He remembers a team of doctors hovering over him wearing headlamps, their pools of light sweeping across his body as they worked quickly without electricity. Next, he was waking up in a clean, bright hospital bed, convinced he was in Russian hands. Terrified and thinking the nurses must be spies, Ben felt trapped inside a Cold War nightmare – until an American man walked over to his bed and softly asked him his name, and whether or not he’d like to leave.

What Ben didn’t know is that from the moment his team had failed to check in several hours earlier, his colleagues in Ukraine and abroad had sprung into action. From an ocean away, the chief national security correspondent for Fox News, Jen Griffin, had heard news that a team might have been hit on the outskirts of Kyiv several hours earlier. Alerted by a colleague from Agence France-Presse, she first had to confirm the story, then work out a plan for what to do.

Until getting gravely injured in a war zone, Ben didn’t have to consider how he might be extracted if anything went terribly wrong. Getting into Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict was relatively easy. But as the millions of refugees on the move in those early days can attest, getting out of the country was slow and arduous.

All the buses had been packed for weeks with civilians fleeing the fighting, and train lines were being bombed as high-value targets. Checkpoints were thrown up everywhere, almost overnight. Local, mostly inexperienced militia had also made roadblocks, hoping to catch Russian spies. The US government had already evacuated its citizens, and issued the official notice that all civilians in Ukraine after evacuation were essentially on their own.

So while surviving the initial bombing was miraculous, getting Ben out of the country to be treated for his injuries was going to take a complex series of additional miracles to pull off. Lucky for him, this wasn’t the first time someone had needed to be extracted from a conflict zone, and there were specialists who were experts in getting them out.

On the Move

Though safe, Ben was in bad shape. Part of his right leg had been amputated immediately. But his left leg had also been severely damaged by the blast, as well as his right hand. He was aware that he’d been on fire at some point, but didn’t know the severity of his burns. He’d also had one eye cut in half by shrapnel, had a caved-in fracture of his skull pressing on his brain, and was suffering a number of other internal injuries from the impact.

Even in perfect health, getting Ben to – and across – the Polish border would have been difficult. In his fragile state, just leaving the hospital was risky.

But back at Fox News, Jen Griffin had been busy. Moments after contacting the State Department to secure emergency permission for survivors to leave Ukraine, she’d called her friend Sarah Verardo, cofounder of a unique organization called Save Our Allies, or SOA. Specializing in helping victims caught in combat situations, the group had participated in the rescue of 20,000 Afghan nationals from the airport during the American forces pullout in 2021.

Sarah had a network of ex-military and humanitarian strategists on the ground in Ukraine to locate the team and try to get them out. She immediately thought of one operative, nicknamed Seaspray, who’d just returned to the SOA center in Poland after rescuing two Ukrainian girls. They’d been stranded without family in Ukraine when fighting broke out, and had to be located and eventually walked to Poland.

Seaspray quickly found Ben and discovered he was the only survivor. The families of the crew who hadn’t made it were informed, and the mission changed slightly. They now needed to get Ben out safely despite his fragile condition, and return the body of cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski to his family. Seaspray also partnered with a former naval surgeon and honored combat veteran, Dr. Rich Jadick, who could provide medical care en route.

Together, they purchased two old ambulances, staffed them with volunteers, and drove to Kyiv in medical uniforms – essentially hiding in plain sight. A combat-hardened leader, Seaspray had performed hundreds of these missions and understood how the chaos of a war zone could be navigated. They drove slowly on back roads and across open fields, avoiding checkpoints where possible. They showed no signs of aggression or escalation to anyone while on the road, and behaved as if they had every right to go where they were going.

This was how Rich and Seaspray managed to walk right into the hospital where Ben was being treated, and up to his room on the third floor. It was Rich’s voice asking Ben his name, and whether or not he’d like to leave. The mission had officially begun.

A Long Haul

Though Ben’s condition was critical, Rich and Seaspray were able to convince Ukrainian doctors to discharge him. His condition was far worse than the already-overwhelmed hospital could treat, and many of the most critical interventions needed to be done within 48 hours of injury. The hospital itself was also under constant threat from Russian bombing; it couldn’t guarantee that anyone would be safe within its walls.

Rich and Seaspray couldn’t reveal the other reason they needed to move Ben quickly. They’d learned through back channels that a diplomatic train carrying the Prime Minister of Poland was in Kyiv for a meeting with Ukrainian leaders. The train sported heightened security and wouldn’t have to pass through bombed-out roads. It offered the safest, smoothest way out of the country. The only problem? They didn’t have permission to travel on the train – yet.

But they also had to get Ben across the city to the main Kyiv station, into the highly secured building, and onto the highly guarded train.

At the hospital, the team was joined by the Fox News security fixer who’d been assisting them, nicknamed Jock. Together, they bundled Ben onto a gurney and into one of their ambulances, and waited for news from the Polish embassy. Behind the scenes, Seaspray’s operatives in Poland were applying pressure through diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, movement across and out of Kyiv was being further restricted. More checkpoints sprang up as a shoot-on-sight travel curfew was imposed. More and more, Seaspray understood that the diplomatic train was the only way out, and made the decision to begin traveling to the station while they awaited word. The train would leave for Poland whenever diplomatic talks ended, and they needed to be on it before then.

In Poland and the US, the diplomatic push was in full force. A fellow SOA operative was sending pictures of Ben’s kids to the Polish diplomatic office. Other operatives were clearing the way ahead, alerting checkpoint after checkpoint about the ambulance carrying an injured American journalist.

It somehow worked – soldiers let the ambulance pass. At the train station, simply repeating the words American and medical while smiling also worked; they were allowed to enter the station and approach the train. As if on cue, they had received official permission to travel almost simultaneously. All that remained was getting Ben onto the train and into a berth.

Despite being in transit for hours without food or pain medication, Ben only asked for one thing in the train – his cell phone, so that he could call his wife and daughters.

Surviving Survival

By the time the train started rumbling toward Poland, the pain medication Ben had been given that morning in the hospital was wearing off. He learned on that train that his colleagues, cameraman Pierre, and local interpreter, Sasha, had died in the blast. Getting to Poland was also just the first part of what would be a long journey toward the medical expertise Ben needed to survive his blast injuries. Compound traumas like his were rare outside of combat, and required expert care. Getting this care would mean traveling further than Poland.

Back at Fox News, the team had organized a military pickup for Ben. A helicopter would meet the train and transport Ben first to a local Polish military hospital. The staff there would then prepare him for the onward flight to a specialized medical center. For almost 48 hours, Ben’s only thought had been to survive. Now that he was safe and under military medical treatment, he realized he was on a new journey.

His injuries had been assessed as grave in Ukraine, but it was Poland’s job to catalog their true extent, stabilize him, administer extremely necessary pain medication, and get him on a short flight from Poland to the regional medical center at Landstuhl, Germany. Near Ramstein Air Base, and the headquarters of the US Air Force in Europe, this staff had considerable expertise.

Just four days after the initial blast, Ben was far from out of the woods. His extensive burns made him prone to infections that could kill him. His amputated leg was no longer an issue, but the other leg had also been partially blown apart; the calf muscle was gone, and half of his foot was missing. Saving this limb would be a challenge, but it could make all the difference in terms of Ben being able to walk again using prosthetics. His damaged eye had to be removed, and he still had a crushed skull and brain injury.

Recovery, even with the best medical intervention, was going to be a far more arduous journey than crossing Kyiv and leaving Ukraine. The best estimate was at least two years. That’s two years of additional surgeries, including painful skin grafts for his burns; years of physical rehabilitation; and being fitted and refitted for prosthetic limbs. It meant learning to walk again – and learning how to navigate the world with his new physical limitations, so he could return to being the active father and husband his family had always known him to be.

The Road Home

One of the best options for such long-term care was at the Brooke Army Medical Center, in Texas. But getting there was going to take additional grit – and a lengthy flight in a military C-17 cargo plane without pain medication, so he’d remain alert. Knowing he had no choice, Ben set his resolve and got through the pain one more time.

While the medical experts had predicted two years of treatment and rehabilitation, Benjamin Hall was determined to make this process faster. Much faster. All the efforts by his team, colleagues, and the diplomats, military specialists, and medical team that had ensured his survival motivated him to take on his recovery with zeal and purpose. He cheerfully faced sudden setbacks, painful interventions, and relentless physical challenges in honor of those who had come to his aid.

Knowing his colleagues hadn’t survived meant Ben’s recovery was in their names as well. In this spirit, Ben actually left Brooke Army Medical Center just five months after arriving in Texas. He waved goodbye to the staff he’d come to cherish and boarded a plane back home – marveling at the expertise that had not only repaired his body, but given him a future with his family.


When journalist Benjamin Hall’s news team was attacked in the early days of the war in Ukraine, just surviving the initial bombs was a miracle. The coordinated effort it took to save him, get him medical treatment, and safely help him out of the country became the mission of specialist operatives, diplomatic and military cooperation, and lots of luck. Aware of his incredible fortune, Ben embraced whatever challenges it took to bring him back home to his family.

About the author

BENJAMIN HALL joined Fox News Channel in 2015. A longtime war correspondent who has covered conflicts around the world, he has written for the New York Times, the Sunday Times, the BBC, the Times (London), Agence France Presse, the Independent, and Esquire. He lives with his wife and three daughters in London.


Motivation, Inspiration, Politics, Biography, Memoir, Nonfiction, War, History, Biography Memoir, Inspirational, Journalism, Ukraine, Social Science


When veteran war reporter Benjamin Hall woke up in Kyiv on the morning of March 14, 2022, he had no idea that, within hours, Russian bombs would nearly end his life. As a journalist for Fox News, Hall had worked in dangerous war zones like Syria and Afghanistan, but with three young daughters at home, life on the edge was supposed to be a thing of the past. Yet when Russia viciously attacked Ukraine in February 2022, Hall quickly volunteered to go. A few weeks later, while on assignment, Hall and his crew were blown up in a Russian strike. With Hall himself gravely injured and stuck in Kyiv, it was unclear if he would make it out alive.

This is the story of how he survived—a story that continues to this day. For the first time, Hall shares his experience in full—from his ground-level view of the war to his dramatic rescue to his arduous, and ongoing, recovery. Going inside the events that have permanently transformed him, Hall recalls his time at the front lines of our world’s conflicts, exploring how his struggle to step away from war reporting led him back one perilous last time. Featuring nail-biting accounts from the many people across multiple countries who banded together to get him to safety, Hall offers a stunning look at complex teamwork and heartfelt perseverance that turned his life into a mission.

Through it all, Hall’s spirit has remained undaunted, buoyed by that remarkable corps of people from around the world whose collective determination ensured his survival. Evocative, harrowing, and deeply moving, Saved is a powerful memoir of family and friends, of life and healing, and of how to respond when you are tested in ways you never thought possible.

Benjamin Hall’s memoir includes a 16-page color photo insert.


“An affecting, singular story…a bracing tale of life on the edge of death.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Powerful.” — People

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