• E-mail Steve
Oct. 13, 2004 9:04 AM
I got in the back of an open military vehicle in Fallujah to drive out to a Forward Operating Base. Everything in the military has initials, so I was going to the FOB with six Marines in the back training their weapons on possible attackers. I climbed up in back and they looked me over. To me they looked real young, but when they aimed their rifles they looked serious.
We bounced around some dirt roads. I figured it would look pretty unmanly to apply sunscreen in the back of a jeep with six armed Marines, but I could feel the sun baking my nose, so I reached in the flap of my bag and put it on. When we got off and on the highway the Marines stopped traffic. That was because there was a new series of initials out there now, VBIED, vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, and the even more deadly SVBIED, which is a suicide car bomber. The suicider will drive right into a convoy and explode. That's why you have to keep the cars away. To do this the Marines have a system: the first move is to raise a clenched fist; next point the weapon, and then if they still are coming, fire in the air; next fire in the tires; next fire in the engine block; next fire in the windscreen; next fire to stop the driver. I may have the order wrong, but it seemed to me a hell of a lot to remember in the few seconds that a speeding vehicle was heading to crash into you and explode.
It was pretty tiring bouncing around the dusty roads going from one FOB to another. We stopped at one to repair a radio station and one of the Marines in back asked me why reporters always interviewed the officers and never heard what the grunts had to say. I did not have a good answer. I did remember I had a cell phone in my bag with a little left on the battery. I asked if anyone wanted to make a call. No one really moved or said anything, then one guy said, "Sure, I'll make a call."
He called his mother. He started out tough, told her he was chilling, but by the end he told her he loved her. They all did, then the phone died. After their calls they sat there as we baked in the sun, nobody saying a word. They were just chewing over what they just talked about, seeing their families in their heads.
"Now I'm good for another month," one said.
"That phone is gold," another said, "Out here a phone call is better than porn."
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Steve, You are one good reporter. You have been in some of the most dangerous situations and you are always so brave. You have many fans out there who love to watch you work, including me. I'm sure you have a few fans in those Marines. That was such a kind thing to do and I'm sure it meant alot to the Marines when you let them use your cell phone. They won't forget you and neither will I. Stay safe out there and remember, you're with the best!
Take care, Kim from Lake Charles, Louisiana
That was a darn fine thing you did for those Marines. I spent a lot of years in the Army and 9 months of that was spent in and around Saudi during the 1st Gulf War. I can tell you that we, (the unit I was attached to didn’t see anything that would pass as phone for a little more then 3
months) so, I can tell you that for a reporter, (even though at the time we didn’t care too much for reporters) you would have been considered an angel sent from God if you had produced a cell phone for us to call home. You should consider yourself a hero!
Respectfully, Doc (Annapolis, MD)
I recently started reading your blog and "Better Than Sex" left me dazed. You wouldn't think that a simple phone call to one's parents would have so much meaning... it's astounding to think that these guys are such softies at heart. You and the brave soldiers fighting in Iraq have many, many supporters here in the U.S., myself and my family included. Just wanted you to know.
Tabetha in Marietta
Thanks for that story. I'm no longer in the Army, but I have many friends who still are. Several of whom are in Iraq and Afganistan as I type this.
Again, thanks for the story and thanks for the use of that phone.
— David (Tampa, FL)
Just want you to know that we eagerly await your reports and admire you and Col. North and the other brave reporters that go into the field. It really is where the rubber meets the road and the BS goes out the window. Thanks for your efforts and take care of yourself as best you can.
Yyou are doing a great job and this military family says, "thank you." All of you in harm's way have our prayers and love.
— Sharon (OH)
What an early morning mix, a few bombs outside your hotel room while you're trying to make your smoothie. Wow! You are one tough dude and seem to remain calm and keep your senses about you in the midst of confusion and chaos! I have watched many of your war reports from Iraq. You have consistently been a brave and strong reporter in the face of the worst situations and you always bring the news to us with a great mix of passion, accuracy and humility about your work and yourself.
— Linda (Flat Rock, MI)
Steve Harrigan currently serves as a Miami-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 2001 as a Moscow-based correspondent.