Fox’s Hall talks survival after nearly dying in Ukraine

NEW YORK — A year after he was nearly killed by Russian bombs while covering the war in Ukraine, Fox News’ Benjamin Hall credits relentless optimism — and what he describes as an inexplicable miracle — for getting him through.

The truth is, it was probably a lot of miracles that allowed Hall to sit down in a coffee shop at Fox’s New York headquarters recently to discuss the book he’s written about his ordeal.

There was the Ukrainian special forces officer driving after the bombing who saw Hall’s wave and put him in a car, the lucky train ride from Kiev to Poland, the 30—and many more—surgeries he’s endured as cured since March 14, 2022, incident.

No story compares to the voice he heard when the second of three bombs left him torn apart and killed. He swears it was his daughter, Honor, then at home in London with her mother and her sisters Iris and Hero.

The voice was persistent: “Dad, you have to get out of the car.” Hall obeyed, just before the third bomb hit, setting him on fire.

“I’ve talked to some people who have had near-death experiences and they see their family often,” Hall told The Associated Press. “I think when you take away everything else, what’s the main thing that means the most to us, the place we want to be? It’s back home with your family.

“Was it a miracle?” asked. “So I believe. I was saved that day. It’s the title of my book. I was in the middle seat of a small car—it’s the death seat—somehow I got out of it, and I’m still alive. Either it was my daughter or it was an angel , I have no answer to that.”

Hall’s two colleagues on the reporting trip, photographer Pierre Zakrzewski and Ukrainian “assembler” Oleksandra “Sasha” Kuvshynova, were both killed.

Even after escaping and being taken to a hospital in Kiev, Hall’s survival was by no means assured. He was seriously injured. He lost his right leg below the knee, much of his left leg, the sight in his left eye, his left thumb was knocked off, his skull was dented, and he was burned over much of his body.

He was lucky enough to go on a train of diplomats from Kiev to Poland, where he was transferred to the American military treatment facility in Landstuhl, Germany.

Hall’s book chronicles this great escape, much of it reconstructed through his later reporting. He noted how his father, who was rescued in war-torn Manila in 1945 and died at the age of 89 less than a month before Ben’s deployment to the Ukraine, both had their lives saved by the US military.

He doesn’t mince words about what he went through – his screams could be heard in the corridors of a hospital as bandages were removed from his burns and the horrific dreams that led him to taper off his painkillers.

However, he said he is blessed to have an optimistic nature and determination.

“I like the positivity and optimism that he has, which is great,” said Bob Woodruff, the ABC News anchor who suffered a traumatic brain injury when a bomb exploded near where he was reporting in Iraq in 2006.

After a period of feeling lucky to be alive, many people who sustain such injuries sink into a dangerous period of hopelessness and depression, Woodruff said. If Hall has been through this, it looks like he’s made it, he said.

“It takes a long time to adjust and say goodbye to some things you’ve been doing and say hello to new ones,” Woodruff said.

He also says that the role of a traumatized loved one deserves more credit. His wife, Lee, spoke to Hall’s wife, Alicia.

From describing some of his wartime reporting experiences in Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria, many before joining Fox News in 2015, Hall was lucky to make it physically unscathed before Ukraine. With his family in mind, he had largely settled into a more secure job covering the State Department before volunteering for service in Ukraine.

While it was impossible to resist an “I told you so” or two, Hall’s wife knew how important the story was and how important it was for him to cover it, she said.

Has he second-guessed his own decision to go?

“Not once,” he said.

While it’s important to understand the risk, “once you make that decision to leave, you have to be able, if you want to do the job well, to turn it off,” he said. “Because fear will stop you from doing this work.”

In his book, Hall recounts a conversation he had with a former soldier about coming to terms with the pain he will face every day.

“I don’t like to tell people about the pain because I don’t want to upset anyone else,” Hall said in the interview. “It’s for me to deal with, not for anyone else. What are they going to do? Do you feel bad for me? Who does this help? No one. So I’ll deal with it myself.”

Hall said he hoped his book can show others that they have reservoirs of strength to deal with adversity. His story will also be told in a two-hour Fox News Channel documentary Sunday at 9 p.m. east.

Aware of his new reality, Hall must decide what to do next. For Bob and Lee Woodruff, he started a foundation that raised $125 million for wounded soldiers. Woodruff continues to report. he spoke in an interview this week from north of the Arctic Circle in Canada.

“I’ve spent my entire career talking about war and the horrors and depths of it,” Hall said. “I think I’d like to tell some more positive and optimistic stories now.”

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