The Man Behind the Camera: Monkey’s Story of a Rescue Under Fire

17 July 2017

Mosul, Iraq


Dear friends,

Here is a message from “Monkey,” our Karen cameraman, whose footage of a daring rescue of two civilians in Mosul with his FBR teammates has gone all over the world since it was taken on June 2nd. Monkey is one of FBR’s deputy directors, our chief chaplain and one of our primary videographers. He is married to Hsa Po Gay and has four children. Below, he tells his own version of the story of the rescue that day.

Monkey with camera in hand in Iraq.
Monkey with camera in hand in Iraq.

‘Dear brothers and sisters,

I want to write and share what happened with God and me during our last mission in Iraq.

With every mission, after I get the call from FBR headquarters, especially for an international mission, I pray to God to make sure it is His time for me or not. It’s a very simple prayer: “God, is it your call or not? If so, I will go. If not, please give me some action to stop me.” I have had confidence every time I went – except during this last time in Iraq.

This time, I met very difficult situations, so that deciding to help the people in need was also difficult. I remember the time when we rescued the little girl: we saw many, many dead bodies in the main road and by the road. We also saw that some were still alive among the dead bodies. Some wounded men waved their hand for help and some children were walking, and some were playing among the dead bodies. It made me very sad, but it also made me afraid to help them. I tried to drive away the fear, thinking, ‘what if it is my kids or family.’ I thought of John 15:13 from the Bible, which says, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.” But I said in my heart, “Lord, I am not ready for this word.”

I also remembered one of the mottos that all the Free Burma Rangers must follow: “Do not be led by fear or comfort.” This rule also did not encourage me to do the rescue, as I am a person with fear, and lazy. When our leader, Dave, asked me, “Who will go with me?” I said, “Zau Seng,” (another FBR cameraman) instead of myself. I knew many people all around the world were praying for us but still I was weak to make the decision of to go on the rescue.

When we talked about possible ways to do this rescue, we needed two things: One is the Americans to drop a smoke bomb; the other is a tank to in front of us for our cover and to shell ISIS as well. I thought, if we got smoke and a tank, I might dare take part in the rescue. But I did not want to pray for the smoke and tank because I was not 100% sure I would go even then, and I had ignored answers from God many other times in my life. I could not imagine how we could get the smoke from the US Army, and the local authorities had already refused our request for a tank. But Dave did not give up. He prayed and talked to friends, and our team talked and prayed together.

Then, while we were talking about how we could do the rescue, standing in a building by the main road, a smoke bomb from the air was dropped. We stopped talking and ran down to the corner of the road. A big tank came and turned toward the main road. Dave started running and shouting, “Whoever wants to go, let’s go!” and led in front.

I did not have time to think and make a decision. Only one thing I shouted in my heart, was, “This is God! He is in it.”

Monkey and the team following the tank.
Monkey and the team following the tank.

I ran and followed the group. I could not believe that we got the smoke and a tank. The tank was even bigger than I thought. After the rescue, Toh, our medic, and Zau Seng, our other cameraman, and I stood among the Iraqi soldiers. One of them looked into my eye for a while, saying nothing, but his eyes were kind. Then he turned into the building and came back with a hat: it had ‘S.W.A.T.’ on it, and he placed it on my head. “Wow, that is an honor,” said Toh and Zau. I could not think too much. I was re-concentrating my mind.

That night, I reviewed what had happened and what I had done:

1)   We did the rescue.

2)   I refused God’s word: John 15:13.

3)   I refused the Ranger motto.

4)   I refused my leader’s call.

5)   We got what we wanted and needed, even though I personally did not even want to pray for it.

Just think. I was a part of it because of God’s mercy and faithfulness. I realized the honor is His, not mine. I do not deserve it because I refused every thing to do the rescue. Only because of His mercy and faithfulness to all His creation, did I dare go. This is why I want to write and share with you, and give all the glory to Him.

He is very merciful and faithful to you, me and all.

I want to thank God for His mercy and faithfulness to all of us. I want to thank people all around the world for being in prayer for us. I want to thank our team for working together as a family. I want to thank our leader for leading us boldly and in love.

God bless you,


Dave Eubank carrying a little girl to safety with help of US military, Iraqi Army, and FBR team.
Dave Eubank carrying a little girl to safety with help of US military, Iraqi Army, and FBR team.