Skinny as a beanpole, generous to an extreme and with an easy laugh, Sultan M. Munadi was an Afghan striver.
Early Wednesday morning, Mr. Munadi died in a predawn raid by British commandos trying to rescue him and Stephen Farrell, a correspondent for The Times, from Taliban captivity.
Mr. Munadi was killed as he tried to lead Mr. Farrell to safety.
Walking in front of Mr. Farrell as they tried to reach British forces, Mr. Munadi stepped out from behind a wall, raised his hands and identified himself as a journalist. A hail of bullets immediately felled him.
“He was trying to protect me up to the last minute,” Mr. Farrell said.
The death of Mr. Munadi illustrated two grim truths of the war in Afghanistan: vastly more Afghans than foreigners have died battling the Taliban, and foreign journalists are only as good as the Afghan reporters who work with them.
Mr. Munadi, 34, the father of two boys, worked as an office manager and reporter in the Kabul bureau. He and other Afghan reporters who work with foreign journalists are vastly more than interpreters.
“The story calls him an ‘interpreter,’ which misleads the reader about what these great people do for us,” Barry Bearak, a Times correspondent who worked with Mr. Munadi in 2001 and 2002, said, referring to an article about Mr. Munadi’s death.
“They serve as our walking history books, political analysts,” he added, “managers of logistics, taking equal the risks without equal the glory or pay.”
For years he had pushed himself to excel. After the fall of the Taliban, he completed his university studies while working for The Times. In his personal life, he married an educated woman, fathered two sons and bragged that his wife studied at a university, a brave act in a nation where extremists regularly attack schools for girls.
Mr. Farrell expressed despair Wednesday at Mr. Munadi’s death, saying he was “three seconds away from safety” when he was shot.