crittenden

Jules Crittenden is a Boston Herald reporter, currently embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.


Embedded Journal: A Minor Case, A Major Disease

Jules Crittenden, 43, is a Boston Herald reporter who was embedded with the 3rd Infantry Division last March and April in Iraq and was assigned to Kuwait prior to the war. Crittenden has also reported on ethnic conflict and other issues in India, Pakistan, Kosovo, Israel, the Palestinian areas, Armenia, and Nagorno Karabagh.


It’s World Tuberculosis Day. My own special day this year.


On the advice of my children’s pediatrician, I had a TB test last week.


When he learned that I had spent part of last year in Iraq as an embedded reporter, the pediatrician told my wife he assumed the military had tested us all for TB upon our departure. I laughed when my wife told me that.


“They more or less kicked us out the back door of a C-130 out in the desert, pointed into the darkness, and said, ‘Kuwait City’s that way,’” I told her.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: Leaving Iraq

Crittenden left Baghdad Monday for Kuwait City and the ride home. Just before leaving Iraq, he filed this report.


A couple of weeks back, when we had returned to the safety of the Najaf desert after the raid on the Euphrates bridgehead, my wife told me over the satphone the people back home were wondering if I’d ever be the same again, what I’d be like when I got back home.

I had already sent back reports of the tank company’s first combat, within artillery range of the ruins of Babylon; of angry, weeping women and frightened children on the road by their burning farmhouse; Iraqi prisoners with trembling hands and the young soldier in the ditch staring at nothing,
a neat hole just below his temple. I had written of the exhausting two-day-long rapid road march that brought us into Iraq; of our camp life in the desert, the filth, the boredom and the waiting.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: ‘I Went Over to the Dark Side’

(Editor’s note: This column catches us up on Jules Crittenden’s last several days, after he was re-united with his laptop computer and again able to file these reports for Poynter.org.)

Tomorrow, I may get to bathe for the first time in over three weeks, not counting several wipe downs. It would be nice, but doesn’t matter much at this point. You’d be surprised how you get used to it, and when I was finally reunited with my gear yesterday, I was able to throw away my week-old underwear and socks, and change my grease-, dirt-, and salt-encrusted pants.

Yesterday was the day I really wanted that bath. Someone told me they had running water in one of Saddam’s palace guesthouses where the Forward Aid Station is.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: Lost Laptop… Kelly’s Death… POW Impressions… Scary Thoughts

April 10, 2003

(Editor’s note: We heard from Jules today, after several days of no communication. He reports that the Bradley fighting vehicle he was traveling in had a seized transmission, so he had to transfer quickly to another to keep up with the push to Baghdad by the army unit he’s traveling with – leaving so fast that he didn’t have time to retrieve his laptop computer from inside the other vehicle. Since then, he has been filing stories to the Boston Herald by dictating them via sat phone. Jules has indicated that he may be able to resume filing to this Embedded Journal soon. Stay tuned.) 

April 6, 2003

I just learned overnight that Michael Kelly, an Atlantic Monthly writer, was killed in a Humvee accident several days ago.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: The dividing line.. Bullets fly.. The distant war.. Dust everywhere.. Print vs. TV

April 1, 2003


Although media embeds are sharing the hardships and hazards of the soldiers’ lives in the Iraqi war, there is one comfort we have that may be the most important: the ability to call home. Soldiers look at my laptop and satphone arrangement, ask what it costs, how it works. They say, “So you can just pick that up and make a call anywhere in the world.” “Yeah,” I tell them. Most leave the broad hint right there. A few have suggested they would pay or barter for the service. I explain that the CO doesn’t want me doing this.


As we share the same conditions and the same exposure to hazards, it may be the single biggest dividing line, underscoring my status as a civilian.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: Avoiding Civilian Casualties & Other Notes to Colleagues

March 25, 2003
One of the great joys of life and journalism is that every day brings a new experience. Today, it is typing and transmitting from the turret of a Bradley, my head next to the breech of the 25 mm cannon. They asked me not to touch anything, which is harder than it might sound. This is like building a ship model in a bottle. On this extended maintenance and rest stop, everyone else is staying down in the rear compartment, out of the dust storm that has been blowing since last night, increasing in intensity to near brownout conditions. The tank 50 feet away is barely visible, as is my dust-coated keyboard. There is no room for my equipment down below and my maintenance pals are busy working on tanks stressed by our fast-paced –- for armor –- and extended road trip.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: Overnight Bradley toward Baghdad

An AP writer who has covered conflicts in Congo and Rwanda called this a “starter war” on the first morning of our embedding nearly two weeks ago, because the U.S. military provides most of our needs…food, water, some degree of shelter and security, and some degree of access to power … all of which can be daily struggles in more remote, less industrialized theaters of war.    

But despite the awesome power of the U.S.military and all that makes possible, filing at all was impossible for more than 36 hours as we rolled blitzkrieg style through the desert on the southern flank of the Euphrates valley.  My world consisted entirely of a roughly six-foot-by-six-foot armored space in the back of a Bradley, with only two narrow periscope ports to view the world, packed with gear and shared with a gangly six-foot-six soldier, all elbows, knees and size-14 boots.  We slept, ate cold MREs and pissed in bottles and handed them up the turret for the gunner to toss out.  Everything rattled and vibrated constantly.  But sooner or later you get used to anything, and it all began to seem normal.  I composed snatches of stories in my head, dozed off to disturbing dreams in which I was detached from the column, in old familiar places with old friends and acquaintances, but worried about finding my way back to the column.  The column was leaving, and I had to get on.    

My satphone wouldn’t work through the thick steel armor, and out brief refueling and maintenance stops were occupied entirely with eating, defecating by the road and stretching.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: Building Trust With Soldiers, Readers

My first night out in the desert with the Joes, the soldier bunking next to me stumbled in, bleeding from his forehead, sat on his cot and began vomiting.  There was a strong reek of what smelled like medicinal alcohol. My immediate thought was that he might be in danger of serious injury or death. Another soldier and I helped him outside.  As other soldiers tended to him outside the tent in a raging duststorm, I told the platoon sergeant, “Don’t sweat it. That didn’t happen.”

I’m 42 years old and have lived a life. These things happen, and it’s probably happened to most of us at one time or another. I was not about to step in it on my first night here, when I needed to develop trust with these soldiers I live with and very soon will ride with into battle.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: The Rhythm of the Day

As a media embed, my own schedule is not so different from the one described in the story below. I hang out with the Joes as they go through different aspects of their regime. During the morning work hours, however, you’ll usually find me at my “office” over in that part of this endless sandlot that is presently refered to as the motor pool.  There, I have power for the laptop and can set up with a board over two jerry cans and a camp chair and get to work. I come back at night, set up the satphone, write a little more and try to transmit.  My older generation Iridium is slow, and despite as much wide-open sky as anyone could ask for, frequently loses its connection. I swear at it a lot. The GIs are intensely interested in this technology, because in this camp, it represents virtually the only two-way connection to the outside world and families.    

“Can you get Internet on that?”

“Well, yeah, sort of,” I say.… Read more

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Embedded Journal: From the Desert

KUWAIT –  When the Army finished running the embedded press through the morning’s chemical warfare training, they gave us a little downtime.  After rising at 5 a.m., it was time for a little chow.

My favorite part of the U.S. military press center’s chow line is that salad with the little baby octopi in it. The Thai beef salad is also nice. But that five-star brunch buffet is part of the life we left back at the Kuwait Hilton with the public affairs officers. This morning, it was T-rations, big trays of food of which the primary appetizing quality is that it is hot. 

They called it “Omelet with Bacon,” and I’ll take their word that is what it was.
    
Tonight, a heavy duststorm has cut us off from every other tent and encampment, and almost from the cots beside ours, seeping in and filling the air.… Read more

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