Saturday, October 9, 2010

afghanistan Through My Eyes

In Chicago I poured over the instructions for getting a visa to Afghanistan.
1. The areas of jurisdiction are: 1. Illinois, 2. Indiana, 3. Iowa, 4. Michigan, 5. Minnesota, 6. Missouri, 7. North Dakota, 8.South Dakota, and 9.Wisconsin.

I live in Florida

2. You may bring your passport in on Tuesdays, between 2 and 4 pm to be picked up on Thursday between 3 and 5 pm.

Either way I was screwed and it wasn't going to work out. Besides, it was really the Embassy for India.

So I sent in my passport by fedex to the Afghanistan Embassy in DC and paid the fee to have it returned in 24 hours with a visa to Afghanistan.

It worked. Except...the visa is only good for three months and expires 10 days before I am to arrive!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Afghanistan Through My Eyes - Saturday Evening Post

The story I pitched to The Saturday Evening Post is to do a parallel of soldier's lives of WWII, Vietnam and Afghanistan. I'm going to find out what happened and why our heros have been forsaken.

The Editor liked it enough to give me his blessing and a business card with the words good luck on it. I told him I would carry it with me when I go to Afghanistan.

I got my press credentials.
One hurdle down, two to go.

The next step is to get a Visa to Afghanistan. Egad another form to fill out.

Looking up Afghanistan Consulates I found that there was one in Chicago. I was going to Chicago in a couple of weeks. I'll just walk in and get it.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Veteran's Chapter - Charles Mohr

Since 1954 the United States had maintained a nominal force of 685 military advisors in Vietnam.

Vietnam is a graveyard of lost hopes, destroyed vanity, glib promises and good intentions - The lead sentence filed by Time Magazine correspondent Charles Mohr for an August 9, 1963, cover story. The sentence was not published.

There are three books among the many I have read about Vietnam. The first, "Once Upon A Distant War" by William Prochnau is what I consider the bible. The second one is: "On Point". A Rifleman's year in the boonies: Vietnam 1967-1968 by Roger Hayes. His personal account of fighting with the 25th Division. It is one of my hopes to be embeded with them in Afghanistan. And lastly, "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brian. His account with Alpha Company.

Accounts of the politics and what these two soldiers saw, all artfully written and let you experience war as they saw it.

But who were these men before and who were they going to be afterwards?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Afghanistan Through My Eyes - Dickie Chapelle

But we should start at the beginning with Viet Nam.

Another hero of mine is Dickie Chapelle, a combat photographer. Dickie was a woman, Georgette Louise Meyers, who cut her teeth during WWII.

Dickie recieved the Overseas Press "Polk" Award for her triple truck shot, (that's an unheard of three page photograph, two with a fold out) in National Geographic proving our Special Forces were fighting, when they were supposed to be in Viet Nam in an advisory capacity only. Her photo was published in the November issue in 1962. It had been buried by the Kennedy administration for an entire year.

It was hard to get behind the Viet Nam war when the American public was lied to from the very beginning. It was hard to separate the man from the soldier from the war.

Another honor Dickie received was, she was the first woman killed in combat. She was killed in 1965 at age 47, on her 5th tour of Viet Nam, the first with her beloved US Marine Corp.

She was 5 years younger than I am now.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Veteran's Chapter

And then there was Viet Nam.

"No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported
then, and it is misremembered now."Richard Nixon, New York Times, March 28, 1985

I was nine in 1968 when the Tet Offensive occurred. My oldest brother who had attended NMMI, was drafted with a low number. As soon as he graduated from college he was going. I don't know if there was any talk about a choice. I believe it was expected.

From what I remember there was nothing good about Viet Nam. From what I know, there was nothing good about Viet Nam.

Who were the men wearing soldiers unforms? I know they were sons and brothers, but other than that they seemed to be the devil's helpers. Who ever they were, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Veteran's Chapter

WWII was definitely portrayed to the American public in a different way than Viet Nam or Afghanistan.

What happened? Ernie Pyle writes of brave men. Men wearing a soldier's uniform doing a soldiers job. Every man he writes about is a hero, even the other war correspondants.

The other interesting thing is that there isn't anything about the politics of WWII in his book. It's just about men who go to war to do a job. They itch to get to the front to see action and then as soon as they see what war is all about they itch to get home.

The men of WWII are as civilized as soldiers can be. The worst off, the infantry who sleep on the ground and just keep plodding forward for months that turn quickly into years.

Ernie Pyle's writing is simple and pure. It gets the point across vividly. You feel as if you are eating k rations, living in a foxhole and burying the dead. The chapter on taking Omaha Beach is just as explicit in his style of writing as Steven Speilberg showed in his masterpice, Saving Privat Ryan.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Afghanistan Through My Eyes

My Editor at Solares Hill thought my idea was fantastic and wanted to help, but it was ultimately up to the Editor in Chief at Cox Publishing.

No go with him.

What next? Who do I know that could help?
Then, I remembered I know an editor at The Saturday Evening Post. I contacted him and he too thought the idea was fantastic and the adventure of a lifetime. He put me in touch with the Editor in Chief at the Post. He liked the idea, but what's the hook, what's the story? Egad, I realized then that I had to come up with a story.

Of course it would be a bit ridiculous to go all the way to Afghanistan, 1/2 way around the world to just hug soldiers...

I thought about all the combat reporters I knew or knew of. I thought of Ernie Pyle. When I was a girl, my branch library was Ernie Pyle's house. He was my first real life hero. I picked up my copy of "Brave Men" and began to read.