Saturday, January 07, 2006

Living the News

I remember right before I was deployed in 2003 watching the news about six soldiers who were lost in the desert during the initial push through Iraq. This was two days before I left the states for Iraq myself. When I first arrived my unit went to a base in Kuwait where we waited for our equipment to arrive before we ourselves could move into Iraq. The first morning that I went to breakfast I sat across from a few tired looking soldiers. Somehow small talk ensued and I came to find out these were the very soldiers that had just been lost alone in the desert for six days and were the center of the news back home. As I told the soldiers that I had just come from the states where I watched their saga unfold on the nightly news they were astounded. They looked at me with wide eyes and laughed.

When I returned home at the end of my first deployment I remember being disgusted at how the war was portrayed in the media. Over time I began to question myself and my own experiences in Iraq. Had things really happened the way I thought they did, or did they happen the way the media portrayed them on the nightly news and in the papers? I began to feel kind of scared about the possibility of having to go back for another tour in Iraq. With all the IED’s and foreign terrorists running around how could anyone possibly survive what is shown on the news? At times it seemed like we were losing the war and I wasn’t sure I could make much of a difference.

Then I got a call not even a year after being home that I was going to have to return to Iraq. I was in the middle of studying for a test when I got the call and I just threw my notebook against the wall and started watching a movie. Why study when I was going right back to the desert? What was the point of trying to live a civilian life when I knew I was headed back to Iraq and all the fun that army life brings with it? Somehow I managed to squeak through school all right and was right off to some good ol’ army training.

During the pre-deployment training we got a lot of updates about current events in Iraq and also watched videos made by the army about things we were going to face once in country. Most, if not all soldiers felt some apprehension about going to Iraq because of the constant bombings we heard about. The soldiers that hadn’t been previously deployed looked to those of us who had been here before for the knowledge and guidance that would help them make it back home alive. I kept up a good front and hid from them some of the apprehension I felt about coming back. I made it home the first time but how would I do on my second deployment?

Once back in country it took me awhile to realize that I was actually here again. It felt weird at first but eventually I became accustomed to army life in Iraq. What really helped me was getting out on the road and finally falling into a work schedule. Now that I am working and “out and about” I realize that all my fears and apprehensions were mostly unfounded. News “reality” is a far cry from actual reality.

On the news there is blood and guts, fire and destruction, and crying and anger. In Iraq there is normal life with sporadic bombings and unrest. I can kind of compare it to the attention that is paid to Israel and the Palestinians by the MSM. Israel is about a third the size of Ohio yet there are more reports coming out of there every day to fill an entire newscast. The same is true with Iraq. If the MSM weren’t able to report the body count everyday I don’t know what they would cover. The two things you can count on being in the news everyday is the weather and the most recent body count of dead soldiers.

Maybe it is just the light that soldiers tend to make of war time events but the things that are covered on the news, (IED’s, car bombs, small arms fire and the likes) are common occurrences here and are paid no more attention to then what movie we want to watch when get back to base. It is funny to go through an event that makes headlines back home but barely warrants a second thought here. Maybe if newscasters and journalists actually had some type of experience with what they report on then they wouldn’t be so quick to blow out of proportion common everyday occurrences.


the dude said...

Well put! Keep up the personal experiences with relationship to you at home and now back in Iraq. If people still believe the news over you then there is no hope for them.

t.h. snure said...

Thanks again for reminding me, sometimes I worry a little too much as your uncle. I do know that you are in a war zone and when I hear of a bombing over there I look carefully to see where it is and wisper a prayer of thanks when it is somewhere where you are not. Funny though, I didn't worry or pay as close attention when there was some nut case shooting at cars on the freeway in your home town.

It's interesting that when the word "war" is attached to things, it comes under a magnifying glass. In reality you probably have a greater chance of surviving a year in Iraq as an American soldier, than you do as a college student driving back and forth to school (even without the nut case) on the weekends.

I will keep praying for you, but I might add other family members to my list as they drive back and forth to work and school each day.

T. F. Boggs said...

Thanks uncle, it is good to hear from you. I guess I was trying to make light of the situation. Of course I believe you are right about what you said. Over here at least we have guns, helicopters, tanks etc. to protect ourselves. Back home you don't really have anything except the cops and you have to call them and that isn't until after something has happened.

I will be praying for all of you guys back home too. Good talking to you.

Gypsy said...

"If the MSM weren’t able to report the body count everyday I don’t know what they would cover."

And there you have it. That's why so many folks I know turn to alternative news sources such as your blog, Michael Yon etc. It's not all doom and gloom over there but you'd never know it by reading or watching the MSM. Some of my friends that have returned are amazed at the "reporting" being fed to the American public.

Stay safe t.f.

T. F. Boggs said...

Thanks for the good comments gypsy. I look forward to hearing from you. I am glad people are turning away from the MSM in droves and I am glad there are people like Michael Yon who devote themselves to good accurate reporting. Another plus of this war is that the MSM is finally being exposed on a large scale for their inept reporting.

Gypysy said...

Always glad to see you posting t.f., and am happy to visit. I agree, the blogs are really helping to expose MSM and I don't think they like it. Too bad for them! I hear newspaper sales are way down as well. Guess they reap what they sow eh?

Stay safe out there, you and your Soldiers are in my prayers.

Gypsy said...

Ooops guess I can't spell my own ID name tonight. :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for everything you are doing and for taking the time to post for us to read. We pray continually for your safety and for peace of mind for your family. Stay safe.

Danielle said...

It's been really interesting listening to your experiences. It is hard to know what to think when you have so little information to base opinions on. The news is our only exposure on the 'war' and I appreciate hearing a different side of it. Wishing you the best, Danielle

aandn said...

Boggs- -Did you see on Mike Yon's Blog Site how he is giving retired military a chance to gather real stories from the men actually in war now and publish them with some sort of connection to his blog site? Great idea eh? The idea goes along with your blog here. The MSM is a great big black hole and getting worse but with peoople like you and Yon getting us the true scoop, the realities of this war, we think things can and will change. You are doing a great job and we are learning a lot from you. You have given us many more things to think about and believe it or not - -you actually change the way we live our lives everyday here at home. Please be encouraged and continue your great work! and Thanks Boggs! Annie & Neatie