This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes", March 19, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: General, hang on a second. We've got to -- General, hang on a second. Reuters now is reporting that air raid sirens have been heard over Baghdad.
ARI FLEISCHER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: The opening stages of the disarmament of the Iraqi regime have begun. The president will address the nation at 10:15.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow citizens, the dangers to our country and the world will be overcome. We will pass through this time of peril and carry on the work of peace.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: One year ago today, the first military strikes were launched against Iraq. In the days that followed, Baghdad was pounded with a shock and awe bombing campaign.
At the same time, U.S. troops made their way into the heart of Saddam's home turf. Many brave reporters were embedded with our military, and they saw firsthand the triumph and tragedy of war.
Joining us now are two of those reporters. Fox News correspondent Greg Kelly was embedded with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, and Fox News correspondent Rick Leventhal embedded with the Marines 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
Good to see you both. Glad you're both safe and glad you're with us tonight.
Greg, let me begin with you. Tell me about your first experience there, how were you first deployed and what it was like when you first got there.
GREG KELLY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The whole experience was just astonishing.
I was not expecting anything. I thought that, you know, if the military is really planning on taking journalists with them into war, they must know something, that the war would be a cakewalk over in two days, nothing more than a glorified photo opportunity.
Of course I was wrong. This was very much a war, a real war. People died. I saw soldiers dying. I saw a lot of Iraqis dying. We saw everything, really, that you conjure up when you think about warfare.
And our access to real news was constant. So many times I thought that, well, we're not going to see anything as spectacular as what we went through. And I said that on the first day of the war after we crossed into the border. And of course just every day got more and more incredible, the events that we saw.
And also the fact that all of this stuff was on TV, sometimes for hours, at a time just added another dimension to it that was pretty overwhelming at times.
COLMES: Rick, the idea of embedded correspondents was something -- the word embedded became now part of our vocabulary. It was something brand new, basically, in terms of war coverage.
RICK LEVENTHAL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A terrific experiment. I mean, it worked, I think, for everyone involved.
It worked for the government, because they were able to show, you know, the American people what their troops were doing out there. It worked for the media, because we were able to get to the heart of the story. And it worked for the American people, because the American people were able to see what was happening on the battlefield as it happened.
COLMES: What surprised you most that you saw?
LEVENTHAL: Well, I was surprised, like Greg was, at the access we had.
When we were preparing to embed, we were all just talking amongst ourselves about how we really didn't expect to see all that much. And then from day one I was right at the border when they started bombing South One Hill, and I'm watching these Cobra attack helicopters, you know, firing Hellfire missiles and jets dropping J-DAMs, 2,000-pound bombs. It was right in front of me.
And then, you know, from that point forward, driving into an ambush, getting into firefights and this video you're seeing right here. We went to a school, and we found just truckloads of munitions that had been stored there by Saddam's army at a school, an elementary school.
We saw and everything the Marines were seeing we were right there with them, and it was a tremendous opportunity to tell this incredible story.
MIKE GALLAGHER, GUEST CO-HOST: Greg, every once in awhile we hear about a soldier, maybe a guardsman where there's a defection, you know, somebody who just says, "I've had it. I can't do this. I just don't have the stomach for this."
I know you guys are a tight fraternity, but are there ever examples of journalists who say, "I don't want to be in a battleground anymore? I want to leave this war zone." And if so, what happens to that reporter?
KELLY: Well, tragically, we had that situation outside of Baghdad. It was the evening of April 6, and we were planning on making another raid into Baghdad.
And let me tell you something, reporters were scared, soldiers were scared. This was a high-risk move. A daytime raid -- not a raid but really an invasion into Baghdad. And we were doing it alone, just as one tank brigade. Nobody else. The 4th Infantry Division wasn't there; the Marines weren't there yet. Just us.
Two reporters decided not to make that trip because it was too dangerous. Carl Liebig -- Christian Liebig of Focus magazine in Germany and Julio Parrado of a news outlet in Madrid, Spain.
Two hours after we left -- they tried to do the safe thing, the prudent thing really. And it was in many respects, but the location we left from was hit by a missile. And two other soldiers were also killed.
So, yes, reporters did decide to leave from time to time. Unfortunately, the results were catastrophic.
COLMES: That's terrible. Nice to know, though, the American journalists did not -- they still went on their job and did their mission.
Rick, you're very popular with military families with all of your reports. They watched you. Do you purposefully set out to give a soldier's perspective in your reports from over there, and if so, does that ever get in the way of the objective mission you have?
LEVENTHAL: We were able to be objective, but certainly our role there was to tell the stories of the Marines who were doing the fighting. And I thought it was a terrific opportunity to be able to do that.
I wasn't trying to show them in any way besides the way they were.
LEVENTHAL: And what was most compelling and most amazing about these guys was how hard working they were and how they never complained. Not a single time. They were dedicated. They were gung ho and truly inspirational.
I've got to tell you, though, quickly I know Greg had that terrible story about the reporters who stayed behind. They were killed.
GALLAGHER: Killed, sure.
LEVENTHAL: When the war first started, there was another journalist who was with some of the Marines who I hooked up with later in the war. They told me that this guy freaked out when they got close to the border and decided, "I'm not going. I'm not going in and you can't make me." And got out of the vehicle and basically sat down in the sand and said, "No way. I'm not going in."
And they said, "You have to go. We have to go and fight. You have to get up and get" -- And he wouldn't do it. So they told me they flex-cuffed him and threw him in the back of the vehicle and then later gave him a ride home.
GALLAGHER: Well, I guess that will teach him to sit down. You know, don't do your job. And I wondered about that, if reporters get punished, if they get, you know, fired, locked up. That guy was having a bad day.
LEVENTHAL: Yes. I don't think he was too ...
COLMES: Hey, Rick, glad you're back safe. You did a great job, Greg. You guys were great. And your service, I think, to all of us, to all Americans during the way. Thanks so much for being with us tonight.
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