Thursday, March 15, 2007

Talks and slideshows

UPDATED March 15th

I'm planning to do a series of slide shows and talks about my Iraq trip for interested readers and families. The plan is for a very informal slide and video presentations followed by a Question & Answer session.

Currently planned dates and locations:

Wednesday, March 7th 6:00pm at Digineer in Plymouth. This is primarily intended for my Digineer co-workers, but I'm sure we can make room for a few extras. Email me for details.

Saturday, March 10th 5:00pm in Grand Marais, Minnesota. 4-H Building. Earlier start time planned to avoid conflicts with other community events that day.

Thursday, March 22nd 7:00pm in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Linden Hills Community Center. This is the come one, come all, open to the public show in Minneapolis. Please send me an email if you plan on attending, so we have some idea how many chairs to setup.

Saturday, March 31st 12:oopm in Alexadria, Minnesota. We will be in the lower level of the Eagles on North Nokomis in Alexandria. A luncheon will be served promptly at 11:30 with Eric’s presentation starting at noon. We will have a donation box to help defray the cost of the luncheon which is suggested at $5 per adult and $2 for the kids that come along.

Sunday, April 1st 1:00pm in Minneapolis. Twin Cities Bravo Family Readiness Group meeting. This is for family members of soldiers, I'm not sure if it's going to be open to the public or not.

Saturday, May 5th Fergus Falls. Afternoon. Location TBD.

Sunday, May 6th Crookston, Minnesota. 11:00 AM (Rescheduled from Saturday, March 31st)

Sunday, May 6th Thief River Falls. 3:00pm Location TBD.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

New video: SSG Chris Johnson Red Lake High School teacher

Here is a short interview with SSG Chris Johnson a Redlake High School teacher who volunteered to come out of retirement to serve in Iraq.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Valentines Day Videos

Here is a collection of Video Valentine Messages from Bravo Company soldiers (and one Minnesota Marine). All of these messages were shot on February 13th and 14th in Camp Fallujah Iraq. Many of them were aired on KSTP Channel 5 TV on the 10pm news on February 14th.

Bradley Live Fire Video

I'm slowly working my way through all the video I shot in Iraq... Here are some highlights of an afternoon and evening of live fire training with Bradley Fighting Vehicles on a fire range outside Camp Falluja.

The firing range was built by Bravo Company, and the targets on the range are old Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers from the Iraqi Army.

English (mis)spellings of Arabic names

Richard over at the Alphabet City blog has a lot of great content about the Anbar "awakening", and has a post with more background linking back to my post with interviews with Shiek Ahmed B. Abureesha, and General Zilmer.

Richard's post brings up an interesting issue, which is the wide variety of English spellings of Arabic names. My spelling of the shiekh's name (Shiekh Ahmed B. Abureeshah) in the interview is from the English side of his business card (see below), while Richard's spelling (Shaykh Ahmed Abu Rishah) and his brother's name (Shaykh Abdul Sattar Abu Rishah) are commonly seen in other media reports.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

SGT Stroud "wins" two purple hearts

SGT Scott Stroud, Bravo Company 2/136 Inf, 34 BCT, Minnesota National Guard

There is a story today on Military.Com about SGT Scott Stroud of Bravo Company who has been awarded the Purple Heart twice on this tour in Iraq. According to the story SGT Stroud is the only soldier in the entire 34th BCT to have been wounded twice in Iraq.

Here is the link to the article:,15240,127484,00.html

22 other Bravo Company soldiers have also been awarded the Purple Heart (that is approximately 10% of the unit).

Monday, March 5, 2007

Interviews with a Iraqi Shiekh and a Marine Corps General on "the awakening" and ERU's

On my first day in Fallujah I was able to participate in a series of interviews with two American generals and a influential Iraqi shiekh discussing "the awakening" movement in Anbar Province.

The awakening is a homegrown effort by more than half the tribes in Anbar to create their own civil defense forces (known as ERU's) to provide neighborhood security, and fight Al Queda and insurgent forces in home areas.

This effort is particulary noteworthy because it is an example of Iraqi's getting fed up with the security situation, and taking matters into their own hands in a constructive way in cooperation with coalition forces and the Iraqi government.

Here are some the highlights from the interview with Shiekh Ahmed B. Abureeshah (aka: "Shaykh Ahmed Abu Rishah") , one of the shiekhs that was instrumental in starting the awakening movement.

Here are highlights from the interview with Major General Richard Zilmer, the commander of the 2nd Marine Expenditionary Force (II MEF) which was responsible for Anbar Province for the past year.

I also have footage from an interview with Lieutenant General Raymond Odierno Commanding General of Multi-National Corps Iraq, conducted on the same day, which I have not edited yet.

Most of the questions in all three of these interviews are being asked by Tom Bowman, the pentagon correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR), and by Pam Hess the pentagon correspondent for United Press International (UPI). I was a very interesting experience as an upstart amateur journalist to get to know these two seasoned pros, and tag along for a day and learn while they worked.

Here is a link to one of Pam Hess's articles based on these interviews:

Here is a link to Tom Bowman's report based on these interviews:

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Amazing Bravo Company Story

Somebody else has beaten me to the punch writing about one of the most amazing stories I heard while in Fallujah. The story involves three Bravo Company soldiers who rolled their Bradley Fighting Vehicle into a canal in total darkness, and lived to tell about it.

Read the story here:

Here are some additional photos to go with the story:

The muddy Bradley back in the motor pool after being recovered. This vehicle was severely damaged by being submerged in the canal, and had to be sent back to depot maintenance.

The rollover crew returning from a combat patrol several days after the rollover in their new Bradley.

SPC Ness looking out the drivers hatch of his new Bradley.

Thank you for your support!

This trip has been really more of a labor of love and voyage of personal exploration than "work". I don't think there is any hope of it breaking even financially, but it has definitely been worth it personally, and I have learned a ton about how to do the next one.

I have received hundreds of very supportive and thankful emails from family members and citizens who value and appreciate what I'm doing. I have also received generous cash donations from the following individuals:

Jeff McIntosh
Blue Skies Glassworks
Cindy McLean
Mark Keefe
Mohan Komanduri
Rod Stroud
Paul Brazelton
Betsy Bowen
Deborah Doran
Mark Dudgeon
Mike Matthews
Michelle Schlichting

UPDATED March 1, 2007

And of course none of this would be possible without the amazing support of my lovely wife, Sara. Thanks!

I'm not sure what the next trip will be, but I am definitely inspired to look for other opportunities for independent photojournalistic coverage of stories that aren't being told.

Day by Day, by Chris Muir (updated daily)

Chris Muir is the cartoonist that I met in Kuwait. He spent two weeks in Iraq at the same time I was there in February 2007, and so thought it would relevant to showcase his work on my site. Here is a link to Chris' humorous travelogue of this Iraq trip: