Freedom of the press is one of the inherent rights afforded to the citizens of this great country that many times is abused as a commercial marketing tool, with many of the reporters only concerned with the amount of money to be made by any particular article. Embedded reporters are a necessity in this “information hungry” age we live in now. I personally feel that reporters embedded with a unit can be a good thing as long as they live by a code of ethics not to place soldiers lives at risk, and to ACCURATELY report what they have seen. On many occasions, our unit was the focus of reports from many agencies, to include PBS (television special--”A Company of Soldiers”), CNN and most recently the Knight Ridder agency sponsored by the Philadelphia Enquirer. The names of reporters and particulars I shall not name specifically, however, suffice it to say that some reports were good and some bad. One report in particular, shed an unwarranted spotlight on my platoon and Company in particular, causing undue stress among our soldiers. Nothing in the report was untrue, however, the context and the wording of this report was what caused a problem. It made our unit out to be nothing more than a group of blood-thirsty thugs who relished in the violence that we so often had to partake in. This, was entirely not the case. We understood the responsibilities not only to our soldiers, but to the civilian populace as well. The responsibility that we had to our soldiers was to bring them home alive to their families. The responsibility we had to the civilians was to assist in the emplacement of security and to provide stabilization for the fledgling government and security forces in that beleaguered country. At no time was unnecessary violence meted out. At no time did any member of my unit meet with force any threat unless it was deemed necessary for the preservation of our own safety. The reporter responsible for the derogatory article attempted to sum up in thirty days nearly an entire year of hardships, successes and personal defeats. This in itself was not a realistic task. The morale of my soldiers was impacted greatly by this, but, as always, their professionalism and resiliency manifested itself by their desire to rely on each other and continue the mission that we started and finish it with honor and the undying courage so often demonstrated by these fine young men. I was able to watch “A Company of Soldiers” the other night and it brought back many painful memories, but was a fitting tribute to the men of this unit. No, this particular program had nothing to do with my platoon and Company, but, for those of you who have kept up with my drivel over the past months will know that many of my friends were focused upon in that program. It was an accurate reflection of the hardships of November, one of the hardest months in this operation. Friends are gone that I shall never see again. Every man in that program is my comrade in arms in one of the best Battalions in the Army. I say this not as being prejudicial against any other unit or branch of the Army, I say this because our Battalion's actions speak for themselves. I am sure that many units in Iraq have suffered harder times than we, however, each unit has its own challenges and my Battalion, Company, platoon and squad met each challenge with valor and commitment. I have never been prouder to serve with any group of men, than the ones I have served beside this past year. The Army has a rich heritage and it will continue by the men of this Battalion into the future as new soldiers come, old soldiers pass on their wisdom and experiences, and we continue the task of striving for peace, and in the event peace fails, to win in close combat.
An article that many of you already know about was posted in the latter days of January regarding my platoon. My men were so proud of the positive press and about what they had done. I was so pleased with what they had accomplished. The months of January and February were like a roller coaster as you shall see in the coming days with future postings. It is good to read things about your unit that a broadminded reporter writes, however, it is a little shattering to read something about your men and your friends from a narrow minded, materialistic viewpoint that attempts to shatter every success your men have striven for the entire year.
I shall post only a few more articles in the coming days, with a summation of the year, but be it known that I sincerely thank each and every one of you for your support. God bless.