Embedded in Iraq: 20 Years Later

subj: undefeated champion

Posted by jim on June 02, 2004 at 13:57:21:

tonight, i entered my first informal match in the marine corps rock throwing game, which i’m told dates back forever and even has official matches and championships. basically, you just take turns with throwing rocks at a bottle set at a ridiculous distance, like 60-70 yards.

the distance originates from targeting shiny objects left on battlefields, like undetonated artillery shells, but that is officially discouraged. anyway, i nailed it after 15 or 20 shots, which was good enough to retire these young bucks for the night. i think i’ll retire too, undefeated.

Posted by jim on June 04, 2004 at 11:16:01:

i’m going back to baghdad soon, to lick my wounds: do some laundry (without a bucket), fix gear, take a real shower, etc. will be nice to sleep in a bed once or twice, then back to next embed. looking forward to new sights, but i’m gonna miss the people i’ve met here. jim

Posted by jim on June 08, 2004 at 00:46:50:

mostly, i throw little rocks at big rocks. feels something like incarceration. yesterday, a driver was coming for me, but cpa thought the risk was too high for civilian travel after some contractors and journos got hit in other places, but they were in very different situations that don’t really threaten me.

today, the ap driver couldn’t leave the hotel to get me b/c of a bomb threat in their parking lot. the base has an internet tent, where i am now, which is packed if it isn’t broken down. there’s a movie in the chow hall every night; usually classics like last night’s “joe dirt.”

and there is a tent full of paperbacks, but it is pretty much picked clean of everything but romance novels. every day casts doubt on everything i have ever seen written by war correspondents, but i’m hanging in one day at a time.


Posted by jim on June 10, 2004 at 13:36:02:

i’m back at the palestine. air conditioning. indoor plumbing. a mattress. so nice! back in action soon i hope, jim

Notes: I omitted a few posts related to the sudden deaths of three friends and colleagues back home in Philadelphia, all within a week or so, all due to natural causes but all too young. I don’t feel entitled to take ownership of their stories for this project. Rest in peace, old friends. The Palestine was the name my hotel in Baghdad, one of three used by lots of foreign journalists.

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.