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Irishmaam

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Everything posted by Irishmaam

  1. Irishmaam

    Papa Art is gone...

    Chuck , Marion & family . I am sorry for your loss. Papa Art was a blessing to all who personally knew him or got to know him online. God Bless those of you that brought him to us . I know you made his world brighter, which added hoy to ours.I will miss his emails. Godspeed Papa Art.
  2. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    Massive kickoff for Marne Courageous Baghdad, Friday, 16 November 2007 12:06 Operation Marne Courageous kicked off in the early morning of Nov. 16 with more than 600 Coalition Forces and Iraqi army soldiers moving into two villages near the border of Anbar province to drive out al-Qaeda in Iraq, and lay groundwork for a sustained coalition presence. Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), were joined by about 150 Iraqi army soldiers in the air assault on the Sunni villages of Owesat and al Betra, west of the Euphrates River and approximately 15 miles southwest of Baghdad. Troops were transported in four helicopter lifts across the Euphrates, utilizing two CH-47 Chinook helicopters and eight UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. A Marine reconnaissance platoon, as well as Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, stationed in neighboring Anbar province, secured the landing zone. Once on the ground, the U.S.-Iraqi force was supported by an air weapons team of Apache and Kiowa helicopters, while approximately 70 Iraqi Concerned Local Citizens assisted in securing the outlying perimeter. While U.S. and Iraqi forces moved through the villages, other troops set to work constructing a bridge across the Euphrates to allow for the transport of materials and supplies to build a patrol base in the area. The base will allow for a sustained Coalition presence in the area of Owesat, part of Baghdad’s southwestern “belts.†No enemy fighters were killed or captured during the assault. Prior to the air assault, U.S. F-16 fighter jets dropped two 2000-pound bombs on an island in the Euphrates that was believed to be used by AQI as a staging ground for attacks. The bombardment was part of a “terrain denial†strategy, cutting off a potential AQI escape route and denying the enemy a location to regroup. Marne Courageous’ main strategic thrust is to clear AQI extremists from the area of Owesat, establish a coalition presence, and develop a concerned citizens program in the area as a bulwark against further enemy activity. Army Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of the 3-101st Abn. Div. (AASLT), described the mission to journalists Nov. 11. “We’re going to put a footprint there. We’re going to establish a forward operating base,†he said. The mission was also conducted because Coalition Forces believe the al-Qaeda operating in the area were involved with the May 12 attack which resulted in two missing/captured U.S. Soldiers, Pvt. Byron Fouty and Spc. Alex Jimenez belonging to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). The 3-101st Abn. Div. (AASLT) took over the mission of the 2-10th Mtn. Div. (LI) at the end of October. “The Soldiers that were captured and still missing from the 10th Mountain are now part of the Rakkasan unit, and also part of the Task Force Marne unit. And the mission I have is to exploit every avenue to try to identify where they are,†Caraccilo said.
  3. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    From Stars & Stripes Suspect in soldiers’ abductions in Iraq is detained By Erik Slavin, Stars and Stripes Mideast edition, Saturday, November 17, 2007 OWESAT, Iraq — Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and the Iraqi army detained a man on Friday suspected of abducting two soldiers missing since May 12. Ibrahim Abid Aboud al-Janabi was detained after his sister, who says her family imprisoned and tortured her, told soldiers that al-Janabi mutilated and buried two soldiers’ remains in a sand pit a quarter of a mile from their home. Soldiers dug holes at the initial site but came up empty. They will continue looking for remains among the vast sand dunes. “We’re going back out there later this evening,†said Capt. Cliff Kazmarek, commander of Company B, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade. The woman also gave soldiers information on roadside bomb and mortar locations, then told them about three of her other brothers’ insurgent activities. Spc. Alex R. Jimenez and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, both of the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, were abducted after an ambush on an observation post near Yusufiyah this spring. The body of Pfc. Joseph Anzack Jr., who was also abducted May 12, was found in the Euphrates River on May 23. There is a 252 million dinar (about $200,000) reward for anyone who leads soldiers to Jimenez and Fouty, 101st Airborne Division soldiers said. Acting on intelligence tips, the 3-187 conducted an air assault on Owesat, landing forces by helicopter at 4 a.m. in the farming village about 15 miles southwest of downtown Baghdad. After entering other homes as part of a clearing operation and preparation for a new patrol base, Company B came to a house on the Euphrates River where a woman, 23, was locked in a small second story room. The woman told interpreters that she had been electrically shocked and imprisoned for seven months. “The conditions of the room, the smell and marks on her body indicates she’s telling the truth,†said an intelligence officer whose identity could not be revealed for security purposes. At first, the family tried to convince soldiers that the woman was locked up because she was crazy; however, interviews with neighbors disputed the story. Then she began establishing her credibility by naming high-value insurgent targets already on the soldiers’ lists and matching names to pictures. She also led soldiers directly to a pressure-pad roadside bomb. The 23-year-old woman was taken into U.S. custody for protection, U.S. officials said. Ibrahim and his three brothers were taken away in U.S. Black Hawk helicopters with Iraqi army escorts. All but Ibrahim will likely be taken into Iraqi custody, officials said.
  4. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    Well Tay Tay is still at Ft Campbell and I am hoping he will stay there until his enlistment is finished. Dusty on the other hand is back in the desert. To my dismay.. He will be there for 15 months. I will enclose a couple pictures. The one with the guys on a hill is in Kuwait. and one of some camels.. The other is thier new home not a real nice looking place. I will do my best to keep you all updated... Thanks for always showing support & respect for the boys. The prayers are always appreciated too. Camels New Home Kuwait Dusty third fella
  5. Irishmaam

    Margraten Memorial Day / Morneweck

    Well Marion it really was very nice to stop by and see some friendly faces.. Love ya all and I swear those are the prettiest roses I have ever seen
  6. Irishmaam

    My articles & book(s)

    So hows writing Sis? I am so out of the loop... Love ya
  7. Irishmaam

    Margraten Memorial Day / Morneweck

    Reg those are beautiful photos and such a beautiful sentiment also. It still amazes me when you folks from across the pond take such good care of our troops memories. I so appreciate that. Thank you very much for taking the time. The flowers are beautiful. Cindy
  8. Irishmaam

    Saints and Soldiers

    Here is a link for the movie, but I would also like to add this as a topic. Its odd I was looking at photos about this yesterday , and today I see there is a movie about the massacre. Learn something every day. Where would I start a topic for this Marion? Thanks again for giving us a place to explore these heroes & all they had to endure..Cindy http://www.saintsandsoldiers.com/
  9. Irishmaam

    "Remember Me"

    Thank you I have seen this and its a wonderful tribute. I always have a hanky handy
  10. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    Thanks Sis It looks like Saudi Arabia may be off the table for Tay which means a trip back to hell.. Dusty will be leaving sooner than we thought but no date yet. I miss you like crazy. Love ya a little Cindy
  11. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    So much to update on and so little time.. well not really I am just tired. But I will do a quick one. Tay Tay is possibly going to Saudi Arabia for a year long deployment. Dusty is going back to Iraq soon, way too soon (for another year.) He has only been home since Sept . Also he got married and they are expecting their first child in August, which he will more than likley be gone by then. Lets see what else Harmony my daughter also got married I inherited 2 more grandchildren, and another due the end of April , and Sadie will be 7 in a week. Lord time flies. This is just a little of this and that. I went from one grandaughter to 2 grandaughters, 1 grandson, 1 grandson in the oven and one unknow... needless to say I have a few more gray hairs. I miss you all here Sorry to have been gone so long. I will try to do better I promise Love yall Cindy
  12. Irishmaam

    My articles & book(s)

    Good on you. I am sure i ts g onna be great. Miss ya Sis
  13. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    Thanks sweetness.. I am so sorry I have been so missing here..My pc crashed and I have to use the hubbys laptop when he isnt using it at work ..that and the fact I am still so distracted with Iraq its hard t o stay on course.. Tay is back at Ft Campbell safe and sound I will have to post some homecoming pics..it was wonderful to say the least and Dusty may be home for some well deserved rest and relaxing soon. I just dont know how I can send him back to hell though. But heres the thing I cant do much about that and he wouldnt have it any other way...so I promise to try andget here more often... Youre never far from my thoughts.. Love ya Sis
  14. Irishmaam

    My articles & book(s)

    Autograph party???Sounds l ike a plan Marions book signing get in line....
  15. Irishmaam

    My articles & book(s)

    Go Marion Good on you !!! I knew you were something to be contended with the first time I read anything you had to say, Proud of ya Love Sis
  16. Irishmaam

    My articles & book(s)

    See how much I miss these days? Marion good on you!!! I couldnt be happier. Good things happen to good people sweetness! Love ya Cindy
  17. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    It really was something Dusty and Sadie are a team ya know and they were quite in sync with this one. Now its time to practice being the flower girl... Dusty and lauren have been together for about a year give or takeShe is a darling young lady You would like her I am sure. I will keep you filled in on any new news Oh planning weddings can be triicky I hope it goes as smooth as the rest of their relationship has gone. Dusty has rhe standard answer to every question she asks him regarding the wedding.... "what ever you want baby" Have mercy he is a dingbat... a lovley one at that though I knew you would enjoy some good news so there ya are. Love ya Cindy
  18. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    Well Marion I have news... Dusty got engaged from Iraq via the telephone and some help form Saide.... He was going to wait until his R & R which has been cancelled and couldnt wait anyway so he planned this on his own...He is slicker by the day. It was awesome. He set it all up or asked me to help him get her to my Moms house, have my grandaughter all dressed in her mini acus with his beret, and when he got lauren on the phone he asked her is Sadie in the room she says no should she be and he says yes call her in the room for me..so Sadie makes her practiced entrance gets on one knee and opens the ring box!!! You should have seen the look on Laurens face it was priceless. Dusty asked her will you marry me just as Sadie got on her knee.... It was outstanding. there were a few tears hahahaha Before Dusty called Sadie says hey I have an idea and starts playing here comes the bride!!! Lauren is like what is she playing> I said oh nothing shes only 5 she just pounds on the piano and she says it sounded like Here comes the bride....I am almost crapping my pants thinking Sadie is nt gonna be able to keep the secret but she did great. Dusty then got on the phone with Sadie and told her Oh thank you baby girl you did a good job. So she was quite proud of herself.. I will post a picture if I can find one where lauren isnt sobbing... oh she said yes I iwsh I could post the part where Sadie was on one knee but I did that in video mode and dont know how to post that.. My backup plan if he didnt get to call I am glad he got to do it his way it was great
  19. Irishmaam

    Irish Maam's boys

    Editor’s note; Lucinda Schmit, proud mother of Taylor and Dustin, would like to add - “Capt. Maureen Ryan of 227th Supply Co. (Taylor’s Captain) and Dustin’s commanding officer Capt. Scott Brannon of 3rd Brigade 3-187 Inf. helped make this happen. When Dustin got to Baghdad it was [supposed to be just] a stopover before he headed north. I emailed both captains to see if there would be any possible way to get the boys together for a day or a brief visit. They took control at that point and worked it out so that they could spend time together. They hadn’t seen each other in over 8 months and would more than likely not see each other again during their deployment. Dustin was able to spend his 27th birthday with his brother, and they actually got to spend 6 days together. it is a gift they will never forget. They have precious memories to keep all their days, thanks to the kindness and compassion of these two captains. In the middle of a war they made this happen for my sons. I will always hold them in a very special place in my heart for their kindness. Godspeed to all.â€
  20. Irishmaam

    Embedded with the 101st

    Embedded With the 101st Airborne Sat Jan 7, 9:58 PM ET AP writer Ryan Lenz is embedded with the 3rd Brigade of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in Iraq and will be filing periodic reports on life in that unit. The Associated Press Thursday, January 19th, 2006 03:21 PM (PST) AP writer Ryan Lenz was embedded recently with the 3rd Brigade of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division in Iraq. Here are his reports on life in that unit. --- TUESDAY, Jan. 17, 11:45 p.m. local AMMAN, Jordan I'm racing down the highway in Jordan, smoking American cigarettes with a man named Mustaffah, who wears a tight, black-and-white New York Yankees stocking cap. His English is broken, which reduces our attempt to talk to humorous gestures. I have traveled for five days to get here, tucking myself into the back of crowded Humvees with soldiers headed for leave, getting delayed by Black Hawks that never came or were too crowded when they did. The last leg of the trip was through the streets of Baghdad in the back of an armored Mercedes with draped rear windows. All of it makes this ride jarringly normal in comparison. The countryside in Iraq rolled past for weeks filtered through 4-inch bulletproof glass as I watched soldiers at the wheels of Humvees weave to avoid the pot holes and scan the horizon, always scanning the horizon. Mustaffah points at the dark sky over Amman, pulls hard on a Marlboro cigarette and chuckles. I look up but have no idea what he sees or why he's laughing. The scenery blends and blurs with everything I've seen before. I roll down the window and a blast of cold wind hits my face. I haven't shaved since Nov. 27, but it feels good to feel the wind. Litter doesn't pepper the roads here. I look up at the trees on the roadside and begin to doze. "Mister," Mustaffah yells. We're almost to the airport and he taps the digital clock on the dashboard. Midnight. My plane leaves in two hours. We're right on time. Inside the airport, I'm a walking luggage rack. Bags hang from my back, chest and shoulders. This must be what the soldiers in Iraq feel every day when they leave for patrols weighted down by 100 pounds of body armor and weapons. I feel guilty for making the association as I leave and they stay. Inside the airport, civilian contractors and businessmen mill in packs. Some I recognize from trips between military posts in Iraq. They recognize me and we smile. "Didn't I ride on a Black Hawk with you early this week?" I ask a man who sat across from me on a choppy ride from Tikrit to Baghdad. The last time I saw him he was covered in guns and bullet cartridges. He must work for a private security firm. He nods, says he's going home to California. I don't ask his name, but wish him good luck. The air feels lighter and maybe it's because of a collective release. There's no fear here of explosions or mortars, no bombs or gunfire. I collapse near the gate to wait for my plane and begin thumbing through a beaten copy of Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass" that I've taken with me on trips for years. The book falls open to a poem I know, and the opening lines fit the occasion. "Adieu O soldier/You of the rude campaign, (which we shared)." Man, the soldiers would laugh at me if they saw me reading this, I think. They'll probably mock me if they see me again. I dog-ear Page 405 and put the book away. ___ Posted 1/13/2006 2:29 PM Soldiers do it themselves, improve Humvees By Ryan Lenz TIKRIT, Iraq — Soldiers exposed to Iraq's increasingly lethal roadside bombs, which can rip through armored Humvees, are drawing on wartime experience and stateside expertise to protect their vehicles with stronger armor and thermal detection cameras. Parked Humvees wait to be shipped overseas at the Red River Army Depot in Hooks, Texas. By Mario Villafuerte, Getty Images The upgrades are being done by individual soldiers and units as the Pentagon decides how Humvees should be changed, and follow public criticism of the Bush administration for not armoring all Humvees ahead of the war. Nearly three years after rolling into Iraq in trucks covered in many instances only by canvas roofs, the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade is adding extra layers of armor to its Humvees. Col. Michael Steele, the brigade's commander, said he ordered the improvements because the insurgents' roadside bombs — known to the military as "improvised explosive devices" — have become bigger and harder to detect. "The responsibility of the commander is to figure out what we need to respond to this evolving threat. The easiest, the fastest and most appropriate answer is add additional armor," Steele said. Iraqi insurgents are also using more anti-tank mines and making bombs that can penetrate the Humvee's current armor. Among the more deadly devices are explosives shaped to funnel a blast through Humvee plating — sophisticated bombs that officials suspect are being imported from neighboring countries like Iran. Because additional armor won't always stop such explosives — one bomb destroyed an Abrams battle tank last month, for instance — a National Guard unit in Baghdad has added detection devices and other measures to protect its Humvees. Drawing on the part-time soldiers' backgrounds as mechanics, electricians and carpenters, the 126th Armor Battalion based in suburban Grand Rapids, Mich., added thermal imaging cameras and a 6-foot boom that can be lowered in front of the Humvee. Dangling chains and an infrared countermeasure on the boom can help trigger explosives before the Humvee is directly over them, said Lt. John Caras. Caras, a former Marine, was the driving force behind the improvements, which have been made to six of the unit's Humvees. "Right from the beginning, I was looking for ways to go on the offensive," he said of the upgrades, which also include extra bulletproof glass around the Humvee gunner and lights and sirens to help with traffic control. Many Humvees around Iraq also jam signals like cellphones, garage door openers and other remote-control devices used by insurgents to detonate explosives. U.S. troops in the past have hardened soft-skin Humvees by using upgrade kits or by whacking spare steel onto their vehicles, and the Army's chief of staff now requires that all combat vehicles in Iraq be armored. The military now has more than 25,000 armored Humvees in the country. Commanders in Iraq and at the Pentagon have debated how to further improve the Humvee. The Army also has tested several vehicles to replace it, but a successor has not been developed. There have been 43 bomb and mine attacks on Humvees operated by the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade since it came to Iraq in September, killing nine soldiers and injuring dozens. Given those numbers, Steele said the need for new armor was apparent. "There are a whole bunch of IEDs that are above the current protection level for the armored Humvee," he said. "Everybody has been trying to do something over the last couple of years." Army officials would not comment on where Humvees have failed or detail how the armor improvements differ from current designs. Nearly all the 530 Humvees in the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based brigade, which is deployed to north-central Iraq, will be upgraded at a makeshift assembly line the brigade created at Camp Speicher in Tikrit. Maj. Tom Bryant, the brigade spokesman, said the armor program is not a reaction to faulty equipment but a response to change on the battlefield. "We're not interested in creating controversy," he said. "It's about saving soldiers lives." While the brigade plans to upgrade all its Humvees, the program is not in official use elsewhere. Francis Harvey, the secretary of the Army, was briefed on the improvements to the Humvee's armor months ago. There is no Humvee armor strong enough to protect against roadside bombs packed with thousands of pounds of explosives, which the Army categorizes as "catastrophic IEDs," Steele said. "There is nothing wrong with the Army," he said. "But I'm not willing to wait. I'm not sure I would be the priority and I don't know how many of my guys could be hurt or killed between now and then." The National Guard unit's Humvee improvements also have been passed up the chain of command, but it's not clear if the military plans to make the changes on more vehicles. Caras said the additions like the infrared camera — which might detect the thermal footprint of a bomb hidden among roadside debris — help turn the Humvee from an armor-wrapped defensive shell into an offensive vehicle. "It's about moving to where the problem is and counteracting it," he said. "Your purpose is to move against any enemy that's out there." Commanders in both units say insurgents are adept at hiding their work and improving their bombs. And they are quick to learn. "All the stupid ones are dead," said Capt. Jamey Turner of Baton Rouge, a brigade commander in Beiji. Ryan Lenz reported from Tikrit. Jason Straziuso reported from Baghdad. ___ SATURDAY, Jan. 7, 5:15 p.m. local BEIJI, Iraq Soldiers have cursed the cold wind that sweeps across the desert for weeks. It chills the bones and gives mornings teeth-chattering discomfort as they run to the showers in short sleeves, flip-flops and stocking caps. In Iraq, the winter chills mean the rains have already begun brewing in the distance. And so the storms came today, slow and steady. Rain pattered the tin hooches and turned dusty clearings into dark brown muddy seas. The desert floor absorbs most of the water, but still murky puddles slosh beneath their steps. Life in Iraq has improved in leaps for soldiers. They run to chow excited about what's on the menu on occasion, buy new music at the post exchange and even enjoy professionally laundered uniforms. The weather alone can rip those comforts from them. Those who can hide in their rooms as the rains fall. Others continue their patrols or stand guard in towers on the FOB's perimeter. The rain can't stop their watch. But they look to warmer temperatures and a summer that will come before they return home, and most say they'll take soggy trousers from the rain over any day when temperatures rocket well over 100 degrees. It's a balancing act of extremes in the desert. ___ SATURDAY, Jan. 7, 10:30 a.m. local BEIJI, Iraq It was candor you don't expect to hear over coffee in the morning — a soldier talking about a dead comrade, a man he knew well and will never see again. I had the conversation in the logistics center with a group of men who receive the bodies of soldiers in the unit who die in roadside bombings or insurgent attacks. They wait as the bodies come in and help gather a soldier's belongings. Last week Sgt. 1st Class Jason L. Bishop, 31, of Williamstown, Ky., was killed. The soldiers talked about the media coverage of his death, and they couldn't understand why his life was not as important as his death in the news reports. Why does America seem so fascinated with the death of soldiers, they asked. They are at war, and soldiers at war die. The flag-draped coffins that arrive in the United States aren't the untold story of the war — it's the lives of soldiers that need to be remembered. Sadly they are rarely told, the soldiers say. The soldiers carry green books to take notes. They are government issued journals with white-lined pages. Bishop had written a letter to his infant son on some of the pages, and the soldiers in Iraq wanted to ensure his wife got the book. That's what the people at home need to know, they said. ___ FRIDAY, Jan. 6, 11:55 a.m. local BEIJI, Iraq To search for weapons in the desert is to embrace frustration. Soldiers know this well. Today they scoured the sandy hills on the banks of the Tigris River. Gnats and bugs swarmed their faces as they combed the river banks. The area holds an infamous reputation — the road leading to the dusty clearing has been dubbed Smuggler's Road. They look for freshly turned dirt, listen through headphones for a mine detector to sound. They joke that insurgents are lazy and wouldn't make weapons too hard to find. But they find nothing, and the fatigue and frustration show on their faces. Of the number of fronts in the war against insurgents, the search for weapons caches may be the most important, soldiers say. If you can't find the people, rob them of their ability to tap untold amounts of ordnance buried in the desert. Choke them out, as the theory goes. ___ THURSDAY, Jan. 5, 12:20 p.m., local TIKRIT, Iraq The towering American colonel looked on his Iraqi counterparts who sat in folding chairs at Camp Speicher to observe a U.S. ceremony to mark one division leaving Iraq and another officially taking over after months here. Col. Michael Steele, commander of the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade, was the incoming commander. He paused before he spoke and looked at Iraqi generals sitting in folding chairs around him. They will be his peers until he leaves. "Freedom isn't free," he said, then paused with a dead on stare. "But we can't give you your freedom. You will have to earn it." He went on to describe a freedom that has "a flavor the protected will never know." I've heard him give variations on this speech before in Kentucky at Fort Campbell. He told soldiers this at a memorial service last spring, which the Rakkasans hold annually. But the speech unfolded in unexpected ways today. He was talking to fellow soldiers who are experiencing first hand freedom Steele and all his soldiers would give their lives to protect. ____ SATURDAY, Dec. 31 11:57 p.m. local BEIJI, Iraq It wasn't a ball dropping in Times Square, but it surely marked the occasion. A throaty boom in the distance, and the sky lit up like a patchwork of lightning-like flashes just before midnight. Most of the soldiers were asleep, and they ran from their hooches alarmed, wearing only gym shorts and carrying rifles into the chilly night air. A lone soldier who just moments before had been manning the radios met them in the darkness, yelling "controlled det" (slang for detonation). Explosive ordnance workers had destroyed an arms cache miles away. No one knew in advance that it was coming. The soldiers shuffled back to bed, grumbling when they heard, and I watched. I had been walking around the FOB (Forward Operating Base) just before the explosion, waiting for the minutes to tick down to midnight. (I haven't missed observing the first minute of a new year in 15 years.) While the holiday marks a chance to begin fresh with a whole new set of goals and opportunities for so many, the day passed without any such consideration by the soldiers here. There were no New Year's resolutions; no promises that this year they would lose those 15 pounds or quit smoking or treat themselves to that exotic trip to far off places. In fact, many of the soldiers won't see home again until 2006 has passed. The only countdown soldiers here know is how much time they have in Iraq and how much longer until they go home. Counting in minutes becomes unbearable. ____ FRIDAY, Dec. 29 10:15 p.m. local BEIJI, Iraq A soldier died today in an explosion that echoed for miles and lasted only seconds. The moment a soldier dies is something you don't think about in the States when the Army releases a name. The circumstances of the death — a routine patrol. The aftermath — a drum roll of gunfire you can hear but can't see as soldiers respond to the blast. These are details left to those who live constantly aware that an IED hides on the roadside for someone, maybe them, and families who will forever remember the day the phone call came to let them know that hidden bomb had found their loved one. Soldiers who knew the soldier who died picked themselves up out of their grief. They headed outside the wire to drive the streets that have taken soldiers before. They carried on with tasks that would fall to the side anywhere but here. In Iraq, it's important for soldiers to acknowledge the dead and pass along the names. But they all do their damnedest not to dwell. ____ WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28, 12:35 p.m. local The power went out and blackened the hooches today. Soldiers poured from their doorways, griping loudly and kicking the rocks and sand at their feet. A generator that powers a group of buildings where soldiers live overheated and blew just an hour ago, leaving only the radios in the command post working. Soldiers depend on electricity. Sun comes up, lights go down. Sun goes down, lights come up. But when there's no power, the veil comes back with a reminder of where they are. Profanities fill the air as soldiers return from their patrols to find darkness. Electricity affords soldiers some of the comforts of home. Sony PlayStations, computers, DVD players. Coffee makers from Europe. Without it, another world waits just outside the gates. It's easy to forget that "other world" with a chow hall open four times a day and a constant flow of movies mailed from the states. But when the power's gone, soldiers become intimately aware of how splendid it is to feel clean, wear fresh cloths, sleeping in the comfort of a bed or easing back in front of a television can be. And, yes, soldiers have televisions here. Veterans who have been in Iraq before, who slept on tanks in the desert during the invasion and ate MREs for months, talk about how good they have it now in comparison. Hot meals and warm showers, cold water and air conditioning. But when the power dies, that disappears and their surroundings come creeping in. The lights no longer shine on glossy pinup girls. Coffee makers stop burping. Even the computer station down the road giving them access to the world outside turns black. They are detached and left with nothing to do but think of where they are. There's truth in the adage that if a soldier can't adapt to his surroundings, he'll laugh at his misery to bide the time until things change. The conversations outside the hooches brim with laughter now. ___ TUESDAY, Dec. 27, 2:35 p.m. local Some days on the Forward Operating Base (FOB) slog by without excitement. Since brigade headquarters left, the combat units on the post have had to split their time between patrolling surrounding villages and pulling guard duty. It's called force protection, and the soldiers resent it. Soldiers watch the unmoving desert for hours from guard posts. Commanders struggle to keep up their patrols with a third of their company gone. And the soldiers wait for their shift to come around, trying, just trying to get a few hours of sleep while the sun beats hard and bright outside the hooch. Boredom. Fatigue. Monotony. A soldier in Iraq knows these things just as well as the thrill and the rush of adrenaline a patrol can bring. ___ MONDAY, Dec. 26, 8:15 p.m. local An explosion rumbles like thunder on the horizon and no one moves. Soldiers stare blankly into the air for a few seconds, processing the sound. A symphony of blasts rocks the outlying areas of Iraq every day. Controlled detonations of discovered munitions, practicing mortar teams, heavy gunfire. They are part of the day and seem part of the atmosphere — like police sirens at home. But with time anyone can tell the difference in the way they sound and feel, the way the explosion moves the ground or shimmies building walls. Controlled detonations are fierce, with a boom that travels miles. The blast sounds tired when you hear it. Outgoing mortar fire is robust and lacks the sound of an impact. (You can feel the ground tear apart with incoming fire.) I heard incoming fire today and knew immediately it was different. Two hours ago a mortar round hit a few hundred yards away from soldiers' quarters. It rang out in the quiet of the desert night. The soldiers stood with wide eyes. A pause. The radios rang out with calls for accountability. Was equipment damaged? Was anyone hurt? Was everyone found? Weeks ago Cpl. Jimmy Lee Shelton, 21, of Lehigh Acres, Fla., died during a mortar attack launched just after the morning call to prayer from a nearby village. No one was injured in this blast, but luck had something to do with it, the soldiers say. Safety is a perception. ___ SUNDAY, Dec. 25, 7:30 p.m. local They binged on turkey, stuffing and ham. They crowded in the darkness to get a moment on a telephone to call home to their families. They gathered outside their hooches, smoking cigars in the cold and laughing about home. Christmas at war is unlike any holiday I've seen, not because of what the soldiers have or don't have, who they miss or even where they are. It's their ability to make even far off lands seem a bit like home. For days leading up to Christmas morning, they had strung tinsel from doorways and hung vibrant red, white and green holiday cards on the tan metal walls of their hooches. Artificial Christmas trees stood tall in dining halls and command posts. But on Christmas morning, when the mail truck arrived packed with boxes — goodies from mom, letters from girlfriends, wives and husbands, toothpaste and underwear — the soldiers weren't awake to see it come. I'm not sure they even expected anything from home. Having just returned from an early morning mission, they were sleeping when the truck unloaded. In the dead of morning they raided a village just outside of town, they hammered down doors, inquired about insurgents, dug deep for weapons caches. And when they awoke, they weren't heavy with homesickness or quiet with nostalgia. Christmas was just another day with a job to do and a letter from home. Oh ... and the food was a little better than normal. ___ SATURDAY, Dec. 24, 2:55 p.m. local Soldiers nowadays have become media savvy warriors slung with guns and filled with an up-to-date knowledge of what's going on in the world around them. That alone separates them from their predecessors, those men who went to war and were left cut off from home and in the dark. Newscasts appear at chow time. Copies of "Stars and Stripes" circulate from hand to hand in hooches across post. Those of us who aren't soldiers but know about them from Hollywood movies have an idea that deploying to war is a complete severing of ties. Hardly the case. To illustrate the point, soldiers had a copy of one of my articles printed and taped to a doorway in their command post. They had it within hours of its release for publication. ___ FRIDAY, Dec. 23, 5:05 a.m. local The morning call to prayer came just as the helicopters slammed the ground. The door flew open, and the soldiers disappeared into the darkness. Before I could move, an unseen hand grabbed me, pushed me and I fell chest first into the sand. The silt from the desert floor coated my teeth and filled my mouth with a grinding crunch. I pulled my helmet back from over my eyes, expecting the soldiers to be on the ground with me. Instead, they were on their knees, rifles cocked and pointed. They scanned the outskirts of the village through green video screens of night vision goggles. So this is an air assault, I thought. An air assault, the modern version of an insertion tactic the Army first used in Vietnam and the calling card for the 101st Airborne Division. Helicopters fly in the black of night and land with soldiers itching to move on an objective. The objective today? A tiny village with mud homes that seemed cast from the bible more than the 21st Century. Soldiers searched through the morning for an insurgent thought to be living there who had killed five of their friends. The man wasn't there, and the soldiers ended with a disappointment they were reluctant to discuss. They happily talked about my "digger" that began the morning, though. I have an excuse, though. They had night vision goggles. All I had was color blindness and compromised depth perception. Hey, you roll with the punches. ___ WEDNESDAY, Dec. 21, 4:20 p.m. local BEIJI, Iraq — Fear. It's a dirty word among the soldiers in Iraq. Even if they feel it, they don't discuss it, or let anyone know it's there. They laugh at movies, gig each other and even play practical jokes. A passer-by can tell when they're happy, homesick or pissed off. But fear hides well in Iraq. Maybe the battlefield makes normal men and women harder than they would be elsewhere. Capt. Jamey Turner, commander of the unit I'm with, quickly reminds soldiers under his leadership that becoming a target is a matter of perception, and that the line separating a soldier from a targeted observer is thin. If a soldier is scared, he will cross the line. "If you look like an easy target, chances are you are one," he often says, setting his jaw and locking his stare on them. "You've got to dominate your enemy." And they listen, these youngsters whose counterparts in the states are in school or partying on a Friday night. Fear is here someplace, I'm sure. It's just beaten every day. ____ TUESDAY, Dec. 20, 9:30 p.m. local ZUWAD KHALAF, Iraq — The voices came from the other side of a sand dune or over the radio, carrying an air of untouched desert in all directions. "Found another one," someone with a metal detector would yell as he swept the desert floor for buried explosives. Soldiers pile into Humvees or run to help. After another five minutes, a yell would come and they would run again, burning with curiosity. Missiles, rockets, mortars and mines, all wrapped in plastic and buried with care — mountains of them near a half-demolished brick building on an open desert plain in northern Iraq. It was a rare moment. One in which soldiers let their guard down and enjoyed an accomplishment. They laughed and swore as they formed daisy chains of arms and hands to move the weapons from the ground into trucks to take them to be destroyed. They sang lewd boot camp marches as they filled one truck, and still munitions appeared in sandy holes that looked like graves when emptied. These soldiers knew the weapons they had found could just have easily been found by someone else, whoever it is making the bombs they find on the roadsides: Homegrown insurgents, foreign fighters, whoever. But today the weapons were in American hands. They knew it and laughed loudly as cars slowed to watch on a highway in the distance. ____ SUNDAY, Dec. 18, 10:30 a.m. local BEIJI, Iraq Brunch in Iraq? Yup. Every Sunday, the soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division are treated to an American-style brunch of scrambled eggs, pancakes, hash browns — the whole nine yards. Now there aren't glasses of mimosa or bloody marys on the table, and it's still dished out with the lightning speed of a military meal. But I suppose it's the thought that counts. ___ SUNDAY, Dec. 18, 3:30 a.m. local BEIJI, Iraq A big screen TV flickered with images from half a world away — soldiers wives and children gathered at Fort Campbell during a live satellite feed. It was a holiday present. A surprise. One by one, sleep-deprived soldiers shuffled to a microphone, donned a floppy set of headphones to hear their loved ones thousands of miles away. They laughed, watched as their children made faces into the camera, and wished their families the best for the holidays. It wasn't a lot of time they had to talk, but it was striking how the Internet has affected even soldiers at war. Just as paper-and-pen letters have fallen out of favor back home, soldiers in Iraq have the luxury of high-speed Internet connections to keep them from becoming strangers to their families during long deployments. Every night, lines of soldiers of all ages file out of a bombed out building on Forward Operating Base Summerall where they can call, e-mail and see their families and friends via Web cams. The downside may be for historians. When the history of the Iraq war is written, there won't be any letters from soldiers to their friends and family to chronicle their days in the field. ___ FRIDAY, Dec. 16, 8:50 p.m. local BEIJI, Iraq You find yourself thinking in acronyms, nicknames and abbreviations if you live with the Army. You swim in a pool of jargon and shorten everything. After waking up in the morning ready to move, you are "G2G," or good to go. The soldiers strap on their "happy gear" or "battle rattle" and SP, start patrol. There are even nicknames the soldiers use for their weapons. An M-16 is a musket. A .50 caliber machine gun jutting from the turret atop a Humvee is a "Ma Deuce." There's even a machine gun known as a "Saw." Perhaps after the sound it makes. It's a dizzying world for an outsider. But even I've found myself making appointments for interviews in military time and planning my day around "ops," or operations. My "hygiene ops," "chow ops," "writing ops," "sleep ops," "e-mail ops." It's an addictive way of speaking, even graceful — in a weird abbreviated way. ___ FRIDAY, Dec. 16, 2:15 p.m. local SHARQAT, Iraq Soldiers watched from a sandy hillside as an election they helped make possible went on without them. Under strict orders to leave the process to the Iraqis, they paced anxiously as voters strolled casually into rundown buildings to vote in Iraq's Sunni Arab Salahuddin province north of Baghdad. They got into their Humvees, got out again, smoked cigarettes, chewed tobacco — anything to pass the time. They talked about guns, bragged about marksmanship and gave impersonations of "Dirty Harry" — all the while waiting for a calamity that never came. The closest came when children from the village crowded the surrounding hillside, taunting them and asking for money. Their shrill cries sounded too much like a Western movie where indistinguishable voices come from the hillside. An interpreter named "Norton" who travels regularly with soldiers from the 33rd Cavalry Regiment taunted the kids and tried to chase them down. But he stumbled where they seemed fleet-footed. The hillsides were their playground, and they knew the terrain well. The night before the election, the soldiers slept on cots in an Iraqi ammunition depot outside Sharqat waiting for the election. I had awakened with them hours before sunrise to ride to a point in Sharqat where they could oversee the polling sites. They wanted to be ready to move if anything happened but nothing did. We returned to post early this afternoon, showered and slept. Was it disappointment that kept them quiet on the way home? The soldiers say that a boring day is a good day. So a boring election would be a good election. An election without bombs or IEDs would bring them one step closer to coming home, mission complete. Staff Sgt. Jason Scapanski, 33, of St. Cloud, Minn., put it this way. "Sometimes it feels like we're beating a dead horse, but maybe this here today will be the culmination of it all." ___ WEDNESDAY, Dec. 14, 8:10 p.m. local BEIJI, Iraq. The radio had crackled just minutes before with a soldier screaming that his Humvee had hit an IED planted on the side of the road near Sharqa. No one was injured, a tire was destroyed, and soldiers from the 33rd Cavalry Regiment's Bravo Troop had begun searching nearby homes for someone, something, anything that might have been used as a detonator. They found a young boy in a room that had walls covered in pictures of Hollywood models. A pornographic American film played on the television. The boy smiled sheepishly as soldiers led him into the courtyard where a group of women had gathered, laughing. That's when they found the old man, chained to the wall and pawing at a bowl of rice covered with flies in an alley filled with rotting food and feces. His beard was matted with grime, and he mumbled through chewed food that spilled from his mouth. The man reached out as soldiers passed him. Maybe he was asking for help. Maybe he didn't know what he was doing. I couldn't look and began to gag. The soldiers I'm with say they've seen this before in Iraq's tribal villages: families that have chained relatives to the walls because of age, senility, disability or disfigurement. Apparently they are seen as an embarrassment to the family. I had seen it once before. At another home just a block away, soldiers found a disfigured boy chained to the wall. They were talking excitedly about it when he somehow worked himself free from his shackles and wandered closer. The soldiers spun around, offered him candy and shooed him away with yells. Finally one soldier led him by the shoulder toward a group of women that were peering around a stone wall who seemed to know who he was. The soldiers had just been attacked, and the boy was becoming a distraction. The unit detained six men today from another house they searched after the explosion. They found automatic rifles, $900 in U.S. bills, license plates from Dubai and a picture of the homeowner standing next to Saddam Hussein's brother. But tonight, it's the man in the alley and the boy on the street who have kept everyone talking. MONDAY, Dec. 12, 11:25 p.m. local. BEIJI, Iraq. FOB, short for forward operating base in military slang. Fobettes, a nickname for those soldiers who never leave the fortified compound, who stand by on the radios, who make sure soldiers are fed three times a day. There's a general disdain for fobettes among those who routinely go into the villages in Iraq armed with rifles and a vest full of ammunition. While they listen to heavy metal music and pace around their Humvees before leaving, fobettes play videogames, watch DVDs and write letters. Life on a military compound in Iraq can be like like a college dormitory. The only thing missing is the booze. --- SUNDAY, Dec. 11, 5:15 p.m. local. BEIJI, Iraq. Going outside the wire. It's a slang expression for leaving the security of a military base in Iraq to travel on highways pocked with holes from roadside explosions. Silence runs deep during that moment soldiers cross the barrier lined with concertina wire and guard posts. At first their silence struck me as boredom, which sometimes it surely is if nothing happens. But after several patrols into the villages around Beiji, I've realized it's an uncomfortable mix of excitement, fear and the realization this could be it that keeps them silent. Have you been blown up yet? The question is normal among soldiers in Iraq. Sgt. Marcus Barnes, a 22-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., said this when I asked him the question recently. "I ain't been blown up yet, but my time's coming." The reality is that soldiers sometimes die in a flash of tearing metal while on patrol in Iraq. They've burned to death, been shredded by shrapnel that tears through the skins of their vehicles when a artillery shell disguised on the side of the road blows up. A soldier told me not to worry the first time I went out with the 101st Airborne Division. "If we die, we won't be around to know about it," he said. He slapped me on the back and laughed. A convoy rolls past a pile of sand on the side of the road; I grit my teeth. If there's a pothole in the side of the road, my stomach turns to the point of nausea. But the truth in Barnes' statement can be comforting. The fact that IEDs blow up nearly every day across Iraq make even the shortest of drives a tense moment. There's a saying the soldiers tell each other often. Being bored is OK. A boring day is a good day. --- THURSDAY, Dec. 8, 5:20 a.m. local. BEIJI, Iraq. The darkness. It struck me first about this place even through the flames from gas flares at an oil refinery on the horizon that dazzle the sky outside Beiji in a burst of orange. The darkness penetrates everything at Forward Operating Base Summerall, where the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade has deployed. I'm told you get used to it, but my eyes haven't adjusted yet. Gunfire broke the early morning silence just a moment ago. Before that, loudspeakers just outside the camp's wires bellowed a call to prayer. Soldiers working in the largely Sunni Salah ad Din province say they can set watches by it. It took an overwhelming five days after leaving New York to arrive here. Two nights in a Kuwait City hotel room, waiting for transportation that never came. Two nights on a stained nylon cot at the Convention Center in downtown Baghdad, waiting again. Traveling through Iraq has proven to be a troublesome nightmare. Heliports jam with lines that form at dawn with soldiers eager for any available space on a Blackhawk. Flights get scrapped because of mission priority. It takes some finagling to move anywhere. One Blackhawk crew mistakenly left me stranded about 15 miles outside Baghdad at Camp Taji, a former Iraqi airfield where an aviation brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division flew Apache helicopters. (My screams of I-Z, short for International Zone, must have sounded too much like Ta-ji through the din.) The soldiers were getting ready to return home in about a month, and many already were wearing red and white Santa Claus caps. They ran through hallways of the post's buildings, laughing and skipping. They were going home soon. It was understandable. I spent six hours trying to arrange a flight out with a National Guard sergeant from Texas stationed at Camp Taji who wanted instead to tell me about the videos and animated cartoons he makes in his free time. "Sergeant, I'd love to see your cartoons, but can you help me get to Baghdad?" I pleaded. He found me a flight leaving after dark, but insisted I watch some of his films while waiting. He sent me away with two DVDs, films of the soldiers he made. Moving by helicopter is necessary. The threat of roadside bombings before the parliamentary elections on Dec. 15 has made traveling by Humvee too dangerous. I finally arrived with the soldiers from the 101st around midnight a day ago. More than a hundred hours in transit had left me exhausted when the Chinook finally landed, dropping a dozen or more soldiers out. I fell asleep on a cot again, this time in a motor pool, choking on the smell of grease and diesel fuel. _________________
  21. Irishmaam

    Combat Photographers & Correspondents

    Dickey Chapelle was a woman of action. With a Leica hanging from her neck, cigarette in hand, dressed in her signature custom-tailored fatigues, harlequin glasses and pearl earrings, she was an inspiration for all women. Dicky was driven by the need to prove herself in the "boys club" world of photojournalism and an increasingly obsessive need for the truth, as she saw it. A combat photographer who strove to be the first on a story, for Dickey it wasn't enough to be near the action. She had to be in the center of it. Her determination was seen as pushy by some, self-serving by others. But no one could deny the passion with which she applied herself to her work. Part romantic, part patriot, part marine, Dickey was never one to let anything like gender stand in her way. Born Georgette Meyer in 1919 in Shorewood, Wisc., "Dickey" (self-named after her favorite explorer, Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd) was led to believe by her father and two aunts that whatever she dreamed was within her reach. Dickey learned early how to persist in order to get what she wanted. At 16, the valedictorian of her high school class earned a full scholarship to MIT for aeronautical design studies. She returned home a few months later knowing she'd rather fly a plane than design one. Upon her return, unbeknownst to her overprotective mother, Dickey took a secretarial job at a Milwaukee airfield in exchange for flying lessons. In July of 1938, after an undisclosed incident involving a pilot, Dickey's mother sent her to live with her grandparents in Florida. A series of jobs related to the airstrip near her grandparents' house led her to a job with TWA in New York City. There she enrolled in a photo class taught by TWA's publicity photographer and her future husband, Tony Chapelle. Through his guidance and support, Dickey worked toward becoming a full-fledged photographer. This support gradually gave way to resentment as Dickey overshadowed Tony. He wanted all the attention and eventually began to take on lovers, partly blaming her. Dickey struggled with guilt and then her own resentment until after 15 years of marriage they divorced and she was free to follow her passion unencumbered. Not known as a great photographer, Dickey fought her personal demons of inadequacy and of not being a "Margaret Burke-White. "She pushed herself, through her photography and reporting, as a means to relay what she witnessed-- her "truth"--to the people back home. As Bill Garrett, her editor at National Geographic, said, "She wasn't that good, and she had to hustle to keep the work coming. But she would stick with a story two or three months while another reporter would stay two days. And she would bring back the facts, no matter how long it would take." Not only that, Dickey would do whatever it took to get the story. She was "adopted" into many different nations' fighting units, beginning with the U.S. Marines (with whom she became enamored on her first foreign assignment during World War II), because of her tenacity in going to extremes to get to the truth. These units included rebel outfits in Algeria, Cuba, Hungary and South Vietnam. She took up parachuting at the age of 40 since the guerrilla conflicts she wanted to cover were mostly in inhospitable terrain. She knew she would be competing against journalists much younger, but she could get there first by jumping. She earned the first approval in years from the Pentagon for a reporter, the first ever for a woman, to jump with the troops. That she was not a good photographer was a sentiment shared by many of her male colleagues, undoubtedly biased by bruised egos. And yet she won numerous awards, including the 1963 Press Photographer's Association "Photograph of the Year" award for her 1962 shot of a combat-ready marine in Vietnam. This came at a time when the U.S. government was censoring most reports of its involvement in the region. Dickey felt such showings were crucial to helping the fight against communism. On her annual lecture tours throughout the Midwest, she constantly championed U.S. involvement in helping countries fight communist insurrections. She thought if she could show the struggle up close, then the American public couldn't help but get involved. Unfortunately, a vast majority of what she photographed and reported on in the last years of her life was deemed too sensitive to be printed. According to some of her editors, Dickey's passion for her stories began to cloud her objectivity. In the fall of 1965, Dickey convinced the editors of the National Observer to send her back to Vietnam. Dickey must have known this trip would end differently. Before shipping out, she arranged for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to archive her vast collection of personal and assigned writings, letters, photographs and reports. The people dear to her noted that this time out did indeed feel different. Her assignment began with three weeks stateside photographing young Marine recruits. Dickey then headed back to the front lines of Vietnam. On the morning of Nov. 4, 1965, Dickey, on patrol with a platoon, stood second in line behind the platoon leader, Lt. Mauriski. Making their way out of camp, the lieutenant tripped a hidden wire triggering a grenade and mortar that sent shrapnel flying. Dickey was thrown 20 feet and caught a piece of shrapnel in her neck. She died minutes later. Dickey once told a general, "When my time comes, I want it to be on a patrol with the Marines." She was the first member of the press killed during Vietnam and the first American woman reporter killed in battle. One can't help wonder, with her love of the Marines and having spent her career striving to be the first, if she couldn't have written a better epitaph. A note of thanks to Andy Kraushaar, Visual Materials Reference Archivist for the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. All images copyright Wisconsin Historical Society. http://www.photobetty.com/dickey_chapelle/15.htm
  22. Marion I dont know if thsi is where you would want this topic but feel free to movie it if need be.. I have a lot of stuff but thought I would start with Dickey When death is a constant companion Why Women Reporters Go to War by Marilyn Stasio -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Between the depression and the danger, the fear and the futility, what makes these women go through this kind of hell, anyway? Dickey Chappelle, pioneer combat reporter/photographer, at the frontline, which she dubbed "bayonet borders of the world," shortly before she died on assignment in Vietnam. Dickey Chapelle died with a flower in her hat and pearls in her ears. The 47-year-old war correspondent, who was on the front lines at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and who won the George Polk Award from the Overseas Press Club for her Vietnam war coverage, was killed by a land mine on November 4, 1965, while on patrol with a unit of the U.S. Marine Corps in the jungles of Chu Lai. One of her grim combat photos survives in the pages of Requiem (Random House, 1997) -- a fierce and poignant tribute, compiled by Horst Faas and Tim Page, to the 135 photographers who died covering the wars in Vietnam and Indochina -- juxtaposed with a colleague's stark image of Chapelle's bloodied body and a report of her final words: "I guess it was bound to happen." Chappelle, a pioneer among female war correspondents, photographed and wrote about war for Life, National Geographic, eader's Digest and The National Observer. Waiting for dark... reporter Jan Goodwin, (second from left), now OTI's new editor, sits it out with Afghan guerrillas before the mujahideen's planned attack on a nearby Soviet military base during the Kremlin's brutal war on Afghanistan. In the 30 plus years that have passed since the death of Dickey Chapelle, more and more women have stepped forward to take her place on the front lines of journalism. In a world technically at peace but blistered by brushfire wars on every continent, they have scattered themselves across the globe: Algeria, Rwanda, Chechnya, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Cambodia, Mexico, the Middle East, and in some cases, in their own burning backyards. Most of these journalists work in the near-anonymity of the profession -- except for those caught in the crossfire of the wars they cover. Even then, the individual stories of these reporters, photographers, and TV and radio commentators are often lost to memory, absorbed in the greater civilian casualty pool or obliterated by totalitarian political regimes. The sheer numbers are staggering: The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York reports that 86 journalists were killed in the line of duty in 1995-96 alone. Forty-four journalists perished in the civil wars that dissolved the former Yugoslavia. Reuters wire service has lost four of its combat photographers in the past eight years. The Publishers' Association of Turkey estimates that some 100 Turkish journalists are currently in prison. More than two dozen Russian journalists, along with four foreign correspondents, lost their lives in the failed Russian coup d'?tat of October 1993. And at least 10 journalists, including recent female casualties Nina Yefimova and Nadezhda Chaikova, died after Russian troops invaded Grozny in 1994. Death threats were made to 92 writers and journalists in 1996, according to PEN, the international association of writers and journalists. PEN also reports on 20 kidnapings and 51 instances of writers and journalists who disappeared in 1996. And, as we are reminded by Requiem, 135 combat photographers lost their lives covering the wars in Vietnam and Indochina. "She was always where the action was." That was Dickey Chapelle's memorial tribute from the Women's National Press Club, which described her as "the kind of reporter all women in journalism openly or secretly aspire to be." Is this what drives women journalists to the front lines, where they can easily become one of the statistics PEN collects -- the desire to be where the action is? Women in the field can be prickly on the subject. Without denying the dangerous nature of their work, they hate being characterized as thrill-seeking adventurers as much as they resent the implicit gender stereotyping in being singled out for bravery. They will offer eloquent testimony to the horrors they've seen, but will often resist analysis of their own motives and reactions. "Thinking about it is depressing, and I don't want to dwell on it," says Judith Miller, a senior writer who covered the Middle East for The New York Times. "You don't talk about it, you don't whine about it, you just do it and you get over it." Most conflict correspondents find safe ground, not in the recounting of their war stories, but in the discussion of their sense of mission. "I am absolutely sure that people do this because of professional commitment," says Seda Poumpianskaia, a former Moscow newspaper reporter and documentary filmmaker who covered the war in Chechnya and was in the thick of the action during the 1993 coup attempt. "You have to fulfill your obligation and nothing else matters," she says of the two tumultuous days in Moscow when, dodging the sniper bullets that felled dozens of her colleagues, she ran with the mob that rampaged through the streets to storm the Parliament. "It's like seeing a child fall from a bridge," she says. "You don't think about the personal danger -- you just jump into the water." Other journalists make the same point in ways specific to their own work in the field. "I felt it was really important to be there, because I was bearing witness," photojournalist Michele McDonald says of her experiences in a Muslim village outside Banja Luka where she and a colleague from The Boston Globe slipped past a military roadblock to become the first witnesses to an ethnic massacre by Bosnian Serbs. "What I saw resonated with everything I'd heard about the massacre of the Jews in World War II," McDonald recalls. "If I did not document the evidence of the torture and the killing, it would be just another forgotten night of ethnic cleansing. It's really important not to let these things fade away, not to let people pretend they never happened." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The First Lady of Global TV Christiane Amanpour, CNN's leading foreign correspondent, has no romantic illusions about her work. It's damned dangerous. She has been shot at and spat at and shelled, and graphically threatened by soldiers whose fondest wish, evidently, was to slit her throat. But the single incident that brought the danger up front and personal was the wounding of a colleague, CNN camerawoman Margaret Moth, who was shot in the face and severely injured by a sniper in Sarajevo. "I don't know whether I could have survived spiritually or mentally if that had happened to me," says Amanpour. "Nowadays, I find myself covering my face with my hands, thinking, 'Will this be my day?'" But despite the fear and the dread, the 40-year-old journalist continues to go wherever the fighting calls herдo Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, and even to Bosnia, where she believes that journalists were specifically targeted for attack. "I have no hesitation about going back," she says. "This is my job." Yes, it's a matter of professional principle with her; but it's also a matter of personal exaltation. "I don't want to sound like a drug addict about it," she says. "But there is an intensity of experience that the people who have chosen to be war correspondents experience. You confront yourself, your fears." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Journalists, who see their function as witnesses, strive to be fair and dispassionate recorders of history. But when stating their own higher mission, they invariably project themselves into a more participatory role. "This may sound trite, but as a journalist and a human rights activist, I do feel that I am giving voice to the voiceless," says Jan Goodwin. On The Issues' new editor, Goodwin is a veteran combat reporter and author of two books, one on human rights' atrocities by the Soviets in Afghanistan, and one on the repression of women under fundamentalist Islam. The first female journalist to report from wartorn Afghanistan, Goodwin says, "The Soviets closed the borders and then announced they would kill any foreign journalist caught 'illegally' in the country. Consequently, the conflict in which two million Afghans died wasn't being covered, which was Moscow's intention, of course. I kept going back because I felt the story needed telling." The stronger that sense of participation, the higher the personal risk involved -- as Reuters photographer Corinne Dufka discovered in East Africa when she was kidnapped by five soldiers who taunted her by pulling the pins in and out of the live hand grenades they waved in her face. In Dufka's view, traditional journalistic objectivity has been nullified by "a different kind of war, driven not by struggle against injustice and political oppression but instead by nationalism, tribalism, and fundamentalism." Moral aloofness is not an option, she feels, for the war correspondent who has seen the corpses stacked in Rwandan churches, or watched 68 civilians get blown to bits by a mortar shell in a village marketplace. Why, then, she asks herself, do journalists go on doing what they do? "Is it the desire to observe history? Or curiosity about what drives humanity to extremes? Or, is it because in the midst of violence and evil, one sees clearly what is right, decent, and just?" More and more, the committed journalists who cover this savage kind of war find themselves being drawn into it on an intensely personal level. Susan Meiselas, a photographer who has covered wars in Nicaragua (where she was almost killed by a grenade), El Salvador (where she was knocked out by a land mine), and Iraq (where she crossed the border with Kurdish rebels), took a professional combat leave to compose a pictorial history of the Kurdish people. Compiled from historical documents and the images of others, Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (Random House, 1997) is more than Meiselas' personal tribute to a country -- it is also an expression of what she calls "a desire to be connected" to its people. Goodwin gave up a six-figure salary to spend four years in Pakistan starting and running Save the Children's cross-border humanitarian program for Afghans. "I went from editing and writing articles to negotiating with 50 guerrillas to ride Kalashnikov-style Գhotgun' on top of our relief trucks to protect them," she says. That yearning for personal connection to a story becomes almost irresistible when the journalist's own homeland is in a state of civil war. Ayse Nur Zarakolu, who runs the Belge International Publishing House from a basement in Istanbul, has been to prison four times for publishing books that condemn the Turkish government's violent suppression of Kurdish and Armenian minorities. Lucy Sichone, a columnist for Zambia's leading newspaper the Post, became a fugitive with her three-month-old daughter to avoid imprisonment for writing articles critical of the government. Christine Anyanwu, editor-in-chief of the independent Nigerian news weekly The Sunday Magazine, was tried by a secret tribunal and is now serving a life sentence for exposing the fraudulent basis of the military regime's annulment of presidential elections. Like Yelena Masyuk, a special correspondent for Russian independent television and one of six journalists awarded this year's Press Freedom Awards from the Committee to Protect Journalists, the people who take those kinds of risks have more at stake than a news story. Masyuk, who has reported for NTV from such hotspots as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and Iran, gave something extra on her two tours in Chechnya. Despite threats against her life, in May of 1997 she returned to the secessionist region in order "to show the Chechen side of the story, to give them a chance to tell their point of view, to show how terrible the war was for civilians and even Russian soldiers." The selflessness of Masyuk's motive was lost on the Chechen rebels, who kidnapped her and her cameraman and sound engineer, then held them under inhumane conditions mostly in mountain caves for 100 days. She and her crew were released on the day of a meeting in Moscow between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and President Aslan Maskhadov of Chechnya. A month later, she was back on assignment in Kamchatka. There is no question that Masyuk is a risk-taker. "I want the exclusive story," she said, "the story that no one else would be able to get." With death threats hanging over her head, she took a terrific risk going back to Chechnya. Luckily for her, she got away with it. Some journalists don't. The murder of a journalist touches other reporters with a deep sense of grief. But such tragedies also make them uncomfortable, because they bring into sharp relief subjects they hate to talk about -- the journalist's sense of invincibility and the apparent recklessness it sometimes leads to. Veronica Guerin, an investigative crime reporter for a major Irish newspaper, the Sunday Independent, was gunned down on the streets of Dublin in the summer of 1996 by a gunman allegedly dispatched by one of the crime bosses she was investigating. Brave, dedicated, passionate about the justice of her work, Guerin left behind a husband, a five-year-old son, and the stories she would never write. Her death was an outrage. But Guerin was not assassinated out of the blue. A year earlier, she had been shot in the leg by a gunman who came to her front door. On other occasions she had been beaten, shot at, and subjected to vile telephone threats. Alarmed, her editors offered her any other news beat of her choice. Characteristically, she refused. "Somehow I cannot see myself reporting from the catwalks or preparing a gardening column," she wrote. But she also refused the police protection that her newspaper had arranged for her. (It got in her way, she said.) She also made no attempt to alter her work patterns or to make herself less of a target -- and that has stirred conflicting feelings in other journalists. "Was Veronica Guerin reckless? Was she noble?" Heidi Evans grappled with these questions in a thoughtful piece for The Nation. "I can only guess she was driven to do what she did for many of the same reasons we all do what we do -- a passion for justice and the truth, [and] the thrill of living a reporter's life," she says. "But some of us have more of a taste for the edge than others, for the adrenaline rush that a big story brings, no matter the price." Every front-liner has a secret story about a time she went too far -- and was damned lucky to get away alive. Judith Miller mentally flinches remembering the close call she had with a sniper in Lebanon. ("Gross stupidity on my part.") Yelena Masyuk had grave doubts about returning to Chechnya only two weeks after getting a death threat; but she went anyway, and was kidnapped. Goodwin was convinced she wasn't coming home when she and her Afghan rebel guides were pinned down for hours by Soviet helicopter gunships. And she also remembers the neophyte American journalist who "bragged too loudly" about his contacts with guerrillas and was shot through the head execution-style in his hotel room, close to where she was staying, shortly after he arrived in El Salvador. "As journalists, we think we have a patina of protection," says Goodwin, "and much of the time we do. But there are certain things you do and don't do. There was a reminder of that on the wall of the international press room in El Salvador, a large sign that read: "No story is worth your life." You take calculated risks, not foolish ones. And luck also plays a part. I've lost a number of journalist and photographer friends to land mines." Behavioral specialists like Marvin Zuckerman, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the University of Delaware, view the impulse to take risks as an aspect of high-sensation seeking, "a trait describing the tendency to seek novel, varied, complex, and intense sensations and experiences; the willingness to take risks for the sake of the experience." Although earlier generations of psychologists viewed the pursuit of skydiving and other high-adrenaline activities as death-wish behavior, Zuckerman attributes such thrill-seeking behavior to low levels of an enzyme known as monamine oxidose (MAO). Other behavior researchers link high-risk pursuits to a variation of the D4 dopamine receptor (D4DR) gene, dopamine being a neurotransmitter strongly linked to pleasure-seeking behavior. Frank Farley, a Temple University psychologist and past president of the American Psychological Association classified such individuals as "Type Ts," thrill-seekers who are not necessarily weird, just wired differently. Type Ts fall into four categories, he says, those who take mental risks and those who take physical ones, and those who take smart, positive risks and those who take dumb, negative ones. Pioneers and social activists, such as America's founding fathers and Martin Luther King, Jr., were probably T-mentals and T-positives, he believes. His theory holds true with other professions, too. One of the world's most talented and risk-taking neurosurgeons is Keith Black, of California's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who operates successfully on brain tumors other surgeons are too afraid to touch. Out of the OR, the physician, who has been dubbed "Indiana Black" by his colleagues, relaxes by skydiving, climbing Himalayan peaks, and white-water rafting in Africa. Daredevils, then, will be daredevils. But when a war-zone correspondent is also wife, mother, or primary caretaker, the responsibility to one's professional ideals collides head-on with one's familial duties. Some journalists admit to having conflicted feelings on the issue. "Is she the most noble person in the world for her journalistic coverage?" Heidi Evans asked herself about Lucy Sichone's flight through the Zambian underground with her infant daughter. "Or should someone phone the child-abuse hotline?" Others reluctantly admit that marriage or motherhood has made them curtail their adventurism -- or at least, consider doing so. "I would love to hang out in Kosovo," says Michele McDonald, who is eager to record the clandestine network of social services operated by the Albanian underground in that former Yugoslavian city. "But since I adopted my two and-a-half year-old daughter, I am much more careful about throwing myself into a situation where I might get killed. And to do that sort of work, you really have to take that risk." The only other thing that seems to quench their indomitable spirit is the occasional bout of depression, which terrifies them because it so closely resembles burnout. "I have to push myself," Judith Miller says of her assignments to the Middle East since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the virtual collapse of the Arab-Israeli peace talks. "You don't come back energized and full of insight, but very down, very depressed about where the whole region is going. It's much more debilitating than covering a war. Send me to cover a war, but not a stalemate." Between the depression and the danger, the fear and the futility, what makes these women go through this kind of hell, anyway? Few of them receive the glory accorded CNN's Christiane Amanpour, or her salary. And even Amanpour, who is invariably found in the world's worst trouble spots, ignores her star status and gets into the story so intensely she often forgets she hasn't changed her clothes in a week. "It's the thrill -- and don't let anyone tell you differently," says Lindsay Miller, a senior editor for National Public Radio who was sent to Bosnia by the U.S. Department of Information to train young Bosnian reporters in the techniques of journalism and in the workings of a free press. "I'm fifty years old, and I felt like a new kid, myself," she says. "The excitement, the adventure can act like an addictive drug. I saw it in the young ones, the way they go out and drink, party, and have intense love affairs. I'm not saying this cynically; I'm just saying it." By portraying herself as a grizzled veteran, Miller can get away with that kind of talk. It doesn't come as easy, though, for combat journalists, many of them with international reputations, who perceive their work in ideological, even humanitarian terms. When asked about the thrills of the job, Judith Miller talks about the exhilaration of covering "a very dynamic society" like Iran. Michele McDonald gets charged up when she thinks about the medical clinics she saw in Kosovo. The thrill of Ayse Nur Zarakolu's life is "striking down all the taboos" for the sake of a free Turkish press. Yes, the mission is the thrill, Lindsay Miller agrees; but there is also the indescribable rush of getting the story -- especially when you have to cheat death to do it. "There's a certain machismo, even if you're a woman, about being in a war," says one veteran combat reporter. "Unless they are lying through their teeth, any journalist can tell you there's an incredible adrenaline rush being out there in the thick of things and coming out alive. There's no high like it. "You only have to watch reporters around the hotel bar, if there is one, after a day out on the front line. Male or female journalists -- talk about cojones. It's pure The Year of Living Dangerously, as they recount their war stories. Then that adrenaline high drains away. Unless they are already permanently numbed by what they've seen, they get blind drunk to mask the terror of the moment, or they go off with one another and f--k like crazy as a comfort mechanism." Dickey Chapelle, who didn't feel alive unless she was living on what she called the "bayonet borders" of the world, would understand. Making parachute jumps, learning to fly a plane, slogging through the mud and the misery of Vietnam, she did what she did for the mission -- and the joy -- of being the photojournalist who had "stayed the longest and gone further forward than any reporter, man or woman." -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Marilyn Stasio writes a column for The New York Times Book Review and articles for national magazines. http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/sp98death.html
  23. Irishmaam

    Embedded with the 101st

    Marion!!!! We are soul sisters. I always thought that would be the best job on the planet. Were you watching the biography of Dickey Chappell? She had the heart of a lion and the kahoonas to go places a lot of troops didnt even want to go.I will have to look at my old term paper and see if I covered her. She was something else thats for damn sure..Hugs at ya Cindy
  24. Irishmaam

    Embedded with the 101st

    Marion I updated this one. I guess he is finished reporting the war over there . From what I gathered the last post says he was reporting instead of is reporting.. I agree it seems a bit trivial to be in a tit if you dont have a coffee maker that will work. Their forefathers had so much harsher things going on. Not to take away from our troops today becuase I have 2 sons over there. It is a different kind of war and they also make sacrifice and its not always I can use my game boy etc... Its a different time. I know the things my sons have said they miss was being inside a building and having toilets that flush.... to quote taywhen he was on R& R in Qutar " to be staying inside a building and to have toilets that flush call me spoliled but I miss having that" now thats not an exact quote ...I know they sacrifice but it certainly isnt WWII. But they still put their ass on the line if they could find a front line... and they are far from home its different but they dont all cry about their luxurys from home not working some of the mjust miss their families toilets that flush and other things.... I hope am not being snippey or appearing defensive I just think his reporting that makes all of them sound like a bunch of whiney hineys over trivial things. All of them are not,some may be but I know 2 that arent..Hugs at ya Cindy
  25. Irishmaam

    Embedded with the 101st

    Sure does Marion...I am humbled frequently these days..Love ya Sis
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