“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”
– Mother Teresa
In the span of one week, GRM lost both its founders – Pete Reed and Derek Coleman. Pete’s death was widely reported on after his rescue vehicle was targeted by a Russian anti-tank missile in Bakhmut. Derek’s death was quiet, a few days later, complications of chemotherapy three months after being diagnosed with lymphoma. Both were just thirty-three years old.
What these men accomplished is more than most of us do in a lifetime. Pete served his country and both served their communities. They started an organization in the middle of a war zone to help civilian victims of conflict. They directly treated thousands of people. They trained hundreds of others in trauma care who went on to care for thousands more. The organization they started has now grown to touch more than 150K lives over the last 6 years. Both were just thirty-three years old.
GRM is committed to honoring the mission Derek and Pete started. As part of that, we are working with their families on legacy initiatives. Even so, it will be near impossible to surpass what they themselves did. 150,000+ lives.
Both were just thirty-three years old.
~Statement from Alex Potter, Pete’s wife~
Pete and I met on my birthday in November 2016, soon after I’d arrived in Iraq to photograph the Battle for Mosul. Wanting to put my nursing skills to use, I messaged him and he welcomed me to the GRM team. Figured I’d stay around for a couple weeks – but we fell in love almost immediately, and became each other’s right-hand-person. I loved the way he forcefully advocated for wounded civilians, the tight bonds he made with the Iraqi medics, and his magnetic personality – his ability to connect with and love literally everyone he came into contact with. We spent the next years adventuring together – across the world and back in the states. We were fierce supporters of each other’s hopes and dreams. Whenever I had doubts or worries – about life, plans, the future – from major to the most mundane, Pete would say something like “I’m right here dummy, everything is going to be okay.”
I have never met someone more selfless. Everything he did was always for the benefit of others. He was always charming, often loud, and sometimes brash, but he got shit done for those he loved, and he loved everyone in his incredibly wide circle. That big personality overlaid the fact that he was also incredibly sensitive, loving, and brave in all aspects of the word, someone who carried me and others through incredibly hard times, placing others’ needs above his own. He was passionate about his family, Marine Corps family, Camp Beckett family, and so many others I can’t name. I can’t imagine our lives without him. I loved him so much, and he loved me so well.
Pete Reed, 9 July 1989 to 2 February 2023, was from Bordentown, NJ. He is survived by his wife, Alex Potter, mother, Candy Reed, brother, Chandler Reed and his wife Bryanne and their children Anthony, Mackenzie, and Parker, his stepmother Michelle Reed, and stepsisters Courtney Reed and Danielle Newman and her husband Gary. Pete founded GRM in early 2017 in response to the Battle for Mosul, served as an infantryman in the Marine Corps in Third Battalion, Eighth Marines from 2007-2011. He proudly graduated from Paramedic school in June 2022.
~Statement from Derek Coleman’s family~
Derek Coleman was genuine in every aspect, sometimes to a fault. He would often tell you exactly how he felt not realizing if it was not what you were expecting to hear. He didn’t do it to be rude, he was just being honest. This was tough at times but you could always trust that Derek was saying how he really felt. He was not shy to share his opinions on politics, historical events, video games, movies, board games, or just about anything. He would listen to what you had to say and calmly ask you a question that would gently challenge your viewpoint. His vast knowledge on such a broad range of topics was never lost on those he encountered. He could quote a line from a movie and in the next sentence quote Friedrich Nietzsche.
Derek had an amazing smile and a wicked sense of humor. He had the ability to be both serious, while adding in his quick-witted jokes that could add levity to a dark situation. Derek made a lasting impact on everyone he met; his connections span the globe. We were always so proud of how he was able to keep those connections alive despite the distance. Derek was loved deeply, and he loved deeply. We will miss him every day but we are so thankful to have had him for the 33 years we did. He may not be with us today, but his legacy will live on forever. Rest easy Derek, you’ve done enough.