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thedrifter
02-02-06, 08:30 AM
Journalists as collateral damage
In the daily toll of war in Iraq, they are casualties with a familiar face
Thursday, February 02, 2006
The Oregonian

M en and women who fight in wars say that even the most intense battles begin to feel routine if they go on long enough. Humans have an amazing capacity to adapt to horror, from the crack of incoming bullets to the deaths of their friends. Deadening their sense of shock, in fact, is what helps them to survive.

It's even easier for people who are untouched by war to become inured to the flow of bad news. Every day, another handful of American servicepersons are killed in Iraq or Afghanistan and so many more are injured that they rarely even make the news. Soldiers and Marines are evacuated, treated, sent home and, too often, forgotten. Even more remote from North Americans are the deaths and injuries to Iraqi civilians.

But every so often, the cruelty of war rises up and demands attention, even from people who no longer read the latest dispatches from the war zone. In the last month, reporter Jill Carroll, her translator, Allan Enwiyah, broadcaster Bob Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, have joined America's lengthening list of Iraq war casualties.

The kidnapping of Carroll, the killing of Enwiyah, and the shrapnel wounds to Woodruff and Vogt are powerful reminders of the daily toll of war. It is felt daily in subdued military households around America, but the circle of suffering widens, at least briefly, when journalists are killed, kidnapped or wounded.

Each case is tragic and each is unique. The kidnappers holding Carroll induced her to weep, videotaped her pleading and released the tape to broadcast outlets. The display was meant to cause anguish in us, and because we are human, it works. We join Carroll's friends, co-workers, sources and readers in praying for the release of a reporter who did her job bravely, fairly and well.

Yet each tragedy that befalls a journalist represents many more that we tend not to think about. Tim Bomke, Christian Bagge, Phillip Jacques, Andrew Hellman, Shane Ward, Lucas Wilson, Matthew Braddock, Phillip Davis, Ramon Garcia and Brian Dooley are just a few of the Oregon soldiers who faced -- or are facing -- long recoveries from wounds they suffered in Iraq. In the Oregon National Guard alone, dozens have been hurt seriously enough to be evacuated to military hospitals in Germany and the United States. Dozens more were wounded and returned to duty. So, too, for active-Army soldiers and Marines.

They, too, have known anguish. They, too, merit our prayers. They, too, represent the toll of war.