Just Like Christmas

Video: Back From Iraq

Feb. 21, 2006 12:40 a.m.
Amman, Jordan

I never liked the airport road to Baghdad, even though they say it's gotten safer.

I sat in back holding a water bottle, not drinking. Sometimes, I bit the inside of my cheeks with my molars. Sometimes, I exhaled. If anyone noticed, no one said anything. You didn't talk on the drive to the airport unless you had to, or unless you didn't know what you were doing, or unless you couldn't control your nerves.

So, you sat there in back and waited and looked at your watch and wondered at what point you could consider yourself safe.

Feb. 18, 2006 10:58 p.m. • Video: A Fighting Force?
60:30-minute run, longer route to avoid helicopters

I'm sitting here in a dark chew. The power has gone out and not come back on. Battery power remains on the computer for now, but we are in the middle of live shots, and will need to find a way to power the videophone. Rudden brought the Humvee over to use an inverter, but a Humvee is 24 volts. So he's gone off into the dark to try to find a regular car. The "reconditioned" generator we brought is out of service.

Something always goes wrong before live shots in the field — almost always. On the one hand, you have to stay on top of things and prepare, but on the other hand you have to try and stay cool.


There is really nothing like leaving a war zone. You start to feel it like you used to feel on Christmas when you were a kid.

Rudden unhooked half of the Humvee battery so we were able to get power. They asked for a 10 p.m. hit (6.a.m. here). Why not? The sky was just about to turn pink and the tiny, fragile gear, the plastic videophone, the complicated laptops, and the sat phones on the roof of the chew, all worked.

Now it is the start of the road out. Even Rudden's iPod mysteriously came back to life, selecting the eponymous Bad Company, an excellent choice for crooners about to leave the mud to wail...

Company...always on the run
Destiny...is the rising sun

Feb. 17, 2006 11:28 pm • Video: Pay Day

"What's the sense of committing when you can rubble it?" — Captain

We thought we got mortared, but it was a controlled detonation. Rudden and I went to the shelter to wait for a siren.

Rudden had a tough day editing. He used five separate tracks of audio on the package that will run Friday. I don't know if anyone will hear it. He wanted to make it perfect, so he spent most of the night on it. He didn't get up from his chair, so I brought him chow, Mexican.

I saw the ice cream man at dinner. I think he is from Sri Lanka. He was working the trays. I asked him about the ice cream schedule, which was baffling. Sometimes he was there with his scooper, sometimes a blue cloth covered the ice cream area. It should have been a black cloth. I asked him if there was any method to the ice cream schedule, any way to predict when he'd be there. He said it was one day daytime, next day dinner. Tomorrow, he said, he'd be at dinner. I asked him a couple of times, because with these things you have to be careful there is not an error in communication.

I sat outside the chew for a while while Rudden edited. There was bright sunlight, but it was cold. It was brown in front of me, and brown as far as you could see. It was mud. I thought about Chechnya. Chechnya was all mud, and much colder. Every war I've been to was full of mud. Mud that sticks to your shoes, mud that gets in your clothes. I sat there and looked out on the giant brown sandbags and the small green sandbags. I started singing, "Twenty twenty four hours ago, I wanna be sedated." I sang softly and tried different intonations.

E-mail Harrigan

Dear Sir,

I hope today finds you well and safe, thank you for the wonderful job you are doing.

On February 6 I read with pain in my heart, your account of the regimental "Empty Boots and Helmet ceremony" for a fallen soldier of the 187th.

Sir, I suspect it was held for my nephew Cpl. Jesse Maria Zamora of Las Cruces, New Mexico. KIA Feb., 3rd.

His older brother serves with the 502nd of the 101st.

I think constantly of Jesse, he is deeply missed.

Please convey to Jesse's friends and brothers of the 187th our prayers and our thoughts are with them, as well as with you sir, and your cameraman.

Respectfully Yours,

Arnold Zamora


I was in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. I remember how hot and dusty it was in the spring through summer, but nothing compares to the winter rain and mud! I too went for runs and found that I grew an inch after the run from the mud stuck to the bottom of my shoes. It also seemed to get everywhere, on your clothes, in your tent, bedding, and your hands never come completely clean. It’s good to know that reporters like you are out there re-creating what our troops feel on a day-to-day basis. I hope by sharing the daily struggle it will keep the public solidly behind the troops.

Balad, Iraq 2003-2004


I am always intrigued by, and appreciative of the information you provide us. I read your blog daily and want to say thank you!

MSgt, USAF (Ret)

You the man, keep up the good work for FOX. I love your work over there.

An old retired Navy guy.


Thank you so much for the information you give us. I'm a wife of a retired soldier and now a mother of a wonderful son serving our country. Just to see his picture you took let me know just for that minute he was safe. He is staff sgt Aaron Volkert. If you see him again give him my love.


I have never before written to give an opinion. However I wait for new reportings from you. God be with you and all that are over there.



Just thought I would say hey and to say thanks for going over there and getting both sides of the story. One person that you interviewed for the Pay Day Video, is my cousin's husband, Ryan Barnett. He is a big part of our family and we missed him dearly at Christmas. It was good to see his face, even if it was in an interview while he was still in Iraq. Thanks again.



My husband is with A Troop, 1-33 Cav at FOB Summerall. I'm always asking him what it's like there and he asks "What do you want to know?" I don't ever really have an answer-his life is just so different from mine right now, and it's not like he has the ability to discuss much with me. I get most of my 1-33 news from Rak Reports and other wives. Your posts are a little insight to what his life is like. Thank you. The stories you present are void of polls and politics and consist of what really matters - the way their lives are on a daily basis and the differences they are trying to make. I've looked through the pictures and have not found any of my husband, Sgt Christopher Irwin, but I enjoy the ones I've seen. Please continue what you are doing...it is making a difference in the lives of many people, both at home and away. We are all wishing for the safe return of our troops, as well as for you and your crew.


P.S. If you happen to see my husband, tell him his girls said "Hello"

Hi Steve,

Just wanted to say thank you for helping military spouses here in the states stay connected to our husbands. My husband's picture was recently featured and it was a nice surprise to see after not having heard from him for ten days! I'm so proud of him and all the soldiers working alongside him to ensure that our freedom endures.

Thank you! Shelley Loveall

Dear Steve

I have been reading your stories and watching you report on TV and God Bless You. My daughter arrived in Iraq two weeks ago. Feb. 17th was her birthday. She managed to have cake and ice cream and was very happy. She is 24 yrs old.

My husband and I know about long phone lines and limited computer access. It's hard not being able to pick up the phone and call her and it now takes days to hear back when we e-mail.

She talked about the MUD when she first got there. She said she is usually covered in it by the end of the day. In this short time, however,she is used to it being everywhere. Now it's no big deal.

I enjoy reading your stories, it gives us a better idea of how and what our soldiers are doing.
I wish you all the best.

New York, New York


They ask: "What do we have to look forward to? What will we do when I get back?"

Spend time with family and friends, go to the movies, get dragged shopping with your wife, have a barbecue and a few beers, take out the trash, watch your kids' soccer games, go out for dinner, cut the grass, sleep late, have birthday parties for your kids, clean out the gutters, walk the dog, revel in the smiles and laughter of loved ones.

"The mundane is next to glory."


E-mail Harrigan