Embedded in Iraq: 20 Years Later

subj: apollo 13

Posted by jim on May 26, 2004 at 13:06:19:

today we had a power surge, to put it mildly, in our workspace at this base… sparks exploded from the wall outlets, light bulbs exploded, and the ac charger for my pc practically caught fire…. “baghdad, we have a problem.”

luckily, i had just disconnected my pc, and can charge off of the reporter’s power supply. however, i also lost the power supply to my sat modem, leaving only this very slow thuraya phone.

it takes 9 minutes to send a small picture. reminds me of drum transmitters in the 80’s. also drops a lot, so don’t be alarmed if i log on less and vanish suddenly.

i’ll get new parts from baghdad, or london, or ny, but i might be compromised for a while.


Posted by jim on May 27, 2004 at 04:37:02:

it is cooler today, maybe only a little over 100. at 120 yesterday… you could leave a water bottle outside for about 10-15 minutes, and make instant coffee. (i was out for 6 hrs.) you could wash a t-shirt, wring it out a little, and hold it up in the hot breeze for about one minute, and it would dry completely. you could dry dry a towel in 3-4 minutes.

just like like having a clothes dryer, except that you live inside it.


Posted by jim on May 27, 2004 at 22:33:22:

abu ghraib has several complete prison complexes, each with their own high walls, barbed wire and guard towers, all inside another great wall.

the complex i lived in for a week now houses mostly marines, some soldiers, and no prisoners. there are patios in this one, with hideous and inaccurate old murals of mickey mouse and bugs bunny.

i think it might have been a visitor center once, but Iām not sure that it didn’t hold children during saddam’s regime. nobody I found had any idea.

Posted by jim on May 28, 2004 at 11:23:56:

my two worst injuries have come from bumping my head on air conditioners, which stick out of everywhere here. i wouldn’t have admitted this, but a doc here was showing me his photo collection of troops with much worse injuries from the same cause. still at same camp now, spinning wheels, nothing to do.


Posted by jim on May 29, 2004 at 23:07:12:

i’ve become acquainted with the iraqi camel spider, though fortunately only through a snapshot taken by a marine at a camp nearby. they are about the size of your hand and jump quickly high and far.

despite legends about poisonous venom and laying eggs in your skin, a doctor here says they are completely benign… except for the fear factor.


About these posts: In 2004, I took a leave from my job at the old Philadelphia Daily News and spent next 12 months photographing the war in Iraq for the Associated Press. I shared my experiences with friends and family on a private mailing list and now I am posting my entries on the same dates 20 years later.

By Jim MacMillan

Jim MacMillan is the founder and director of the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting and the assistant director of the Logan Center for Urban Investigative Reporting at Temple University. He has been a fellow at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and the Knight-Wallace Fellows, as well as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Swarthmore College. Previously, MacMillan spent 17 years at the Philadelphia Daily News and photographed the war in Iraq for The Associated Press, after which he and his team were awarded The Pulitzer Prize.