Front page
Archive
Silflay Hraka?


Bigwig is a systems administrator at a public university
Hrairoo is the proprietor of a quality used bookstore
Kehaar is.
Woundwort is a professor of counseling at a private university

The Hraka RSS feed

Email
bigwig AT nc.rr.com

Friends of Hraka
InstaPundit
Daily Pundit
cut on the bias
Meryl Yourish
This Blog Is Full Of Crap
Winds of Change
A Small Victory
Silent Running
Dr. Weevil
Little Green Footballs
ColdFury
Oceanguy
Fragments from Floyd
VodkaPundit
Allah
The Feces Flinging Monkey
Dean's World
Little Tiny Lies
The Redsugar Muse
Sperari
Natalie Solent
From the Mrs.
ErosBlog
The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler
On the Third Hand
Public Nuisance
Not a Fish
Rantburg
AMCGLTD
WeckUpToThees!
Electric Venom
Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo
Common Sense and Wonder
Neither Here Nor There
Wizbang!
Bogieblog
ObscuroRant
RocketJones
The Greatest Jeneration
Ravenwolf
Ipse Dixit
TarHeelPundit
Blog On the Run
blogatron
Redwood Dragon
Notables
Greeblie Blog
Have A Cuppa Tea
A Dog's Life
IMAO
Zonitics.com
Iberian Notes
Midwest Conservative Journal
A Voyage to Arcturus
HokiePundit
Trojan Horseshoes
In Context
dcthornton.blog
The People's Republic of Seabrook
Country Store
Blog Critics
Chicago Boyz
Hippy Hill News
Kyle Still Free Press
The Devil's Excrement
The Fat Guy
War Liberal
Assume the Position
Balloon Juice
Iron Pen In A Velvet Glove
IsraPundit
Freedom Lives
Where Worlds Collide
Knot by Numbers
How Appealing
South Knox Bubba
Heretical Ideas
The Kitchen Cabinet
Dustbury.com
tonecluster
Bo Cowgill
mtpolitics.net
Raving Atheist
The Short Strange Trip
Shark Blog
Hoplites
Jimspot
Ron Bailey's Weblog
Cornfield Commentary
Testify!
Northwest Notes
pseudorandom
The Blog from the Core
Ain'tNoBadDude
CroMagnon
The Talking Dog
WTF Is It Now??
Blue Streak
Smarter Harper's Index
nikita demosthenes
Bloviating Inanities
Sneakeasy's Joint
Ravenwood's Universe
The Eleven Day Empire
World Wide Rant
All American
Pdawwg
The Rant
The Johnny Bacardi Show
The Head Heeb
Viking Pundit
Mercurial
Oscar Jr. Was Here
Just Some Poor Schmuck
Katy & Bruce Loebrich
But How's The Coffee?
Roscoe Ellis
Foolsblog
Sasha Castel
Dodgeblogium
Susskins Central Dispatch
DoggerelPundit
Josh Heit
Attaboy
Aaron's Rantblog
MojoMark
As I was saying...
Blog O' Dob
Dr. Frank's Blogs Of War
Betsy's Page
A Knob for Brightness
Fresh Bilge
The Politburo Diktat
Drumwaster's rants
Curt's Page
The Razor
An Unsealed Room
The Legal Bean
Helloooo chapter two!
As I Was Saying...
SkeptiLog AGOG!
Tong family blog
Vox Beth
Velociblog
I was thinking
Judicious Asininity
This Woman's Work
Fragrant Lotus
DaGoddess
Single Southern Guy
Caerdroia
GrahamLester.Com
Jay Solo's Verbosity
TacJammer
Snooze Button Dreams
Horologium
You Big Mouth, You!
From the Inside looking Out
Night of the Lepus
No Watermelons Allowed
From The Inside Looking Out
Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
Suburban Blight
Aimless
The SmarterCop
Dog of Flanders
From Behind the Wall of Sleep
Beaker's Corner
Bad State of Gruntledness
Who Tends The Fires
Granny Rant
Elegance Against Ignorance
Moxie.nu
Eccentricity
Say What?
Blown Fuse
Wait 'til Next Year
The Pryhills
The Whomping Willow
The National Debate
The Skeptician
Zach Everson
MonkeyWatch
Geekward Ho
Argghhh!!!
Life in New Orleans
Rotten Miracles
Fringe
The Biomes Blog
illinigirl
See What You Share
Truthprobe
Blog d’Elisson
Your Philosophy Sucks
Watauga Rambler
Socialized Medicine
Consternations
Verging on Pertinence
Read My Lips
ambivablog
Soccerdad
The Flannel Avenger
Butch Howard's WebLog
Castle Argghhh!
Andrew Hofer
kschlenker.com
Moron Abroad
White Pebble
Darn Floor
Wizblog
tweedler
Pajama Pundits
BabyTrollBlog
Cadmusings
Goddess Training 101
A & W
Medical Madhouse
Slowly Going Sane
The Oubliette
American Future
Right Side Redux
See The Donkey
Newbie Trucker
The Right Scale
Running Scared
Ramblings Journal
Focus On Reality
Wyatt's Torch

March 21, 2003

The Ernie Pyle Assembly Line

The Ernie Pyle Assembly Line

Bill Quick on embedding:

The media may have created a monster it didn't intend, and won't understand for some time yet. Take a look at who is doing the reporting as "embedded" reporters: the young, the male, the up-and-coming.

And have you noticed how, over the past 48 hours, these embedded reporters have gone from, "The men I am with are eager to fight..." to, "We engaged the enemy, our LAV fired a dozen rounds and we destroyed the target."

There's nothing like putting your life on the line and sharing battle to create bonds, loyalties, and memories that will never fade or break. The next generation of media stars will have a considerably different view of the military than the last one.

The last time the military really let reporters mix with front line troops was in WW II,* which has become known as "the good war". The image of the American soldier reached the acme of its popularity at that time, and that image lasted a good twenty years before Vietnam killed it, a length of time due primarily to reporters like Ernie Pyle. He wrote the following:

In this war I have known a lot of officers who were loved and respected by the soldiers under them. But never have I crossed the trail of any man as beloved as Capt. Henry T. Waskow of Belton, Texas.

Capt. Waskow was a company commander in the Thirty-Sixth Division. He had led his company since long before it left the States. He was very young, only in his middle twenties, but he carried in him a sincerity and gentleness that made people want to be guided by him.

"After my own father, he came next," a sergeant told me.

"He always looked after us," a soldier said. "He'd go to bat for us every time."

"I've never knowed him to do anything unfair," another one said.

I was at the foot of the mule trail the night they brought Capt. Waskow's body down. The moon was nearly full at the time, and you could see far up the trail, and even part way across the valley below. Soldiers made shadows in the moonlight as they walked.

Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed to the backs of mules. They came lying belly-down across the wooden packsaddles, their heads hanging down on the left side of the mule, their stiffened legs sticking awkwardly from the other side. bobbing up and down as the mule walked.

The Italian mule-skinners were afraid to walk beside the dead men, so Americans had to lead the mules down that night. Even the Americans were reluctant to unlash and lift off the bodies at the bottom, so an officer had to do it himself, and ask others to help.

The first one came early in the morning. They slid him down from the mule and stood him on his feet for a moment, while they got a new grip. In the half light he might have been merely a sick man standing there, leaning on the others. Then they laid him on the ground in the shadow of the low stone wall alongside the road.

I don't know who that first one was. You feel small in the presence of dead men, and ashamed at being alive, and you don't ask silly questions.

We left him there beside the road, that first one, and we all went back into the cowshed and sat on water cans or lay in the straw, waiting for the next batch of mules.

Somebody said the dead soldier had been dead for four days, and then nobody said anything more about it. We talked soldier talk for an hour or more. The dead men lay all alone outside in the shadow of the low stone wall.

Then a soldier came into the cowshed and said there were some more bodies outside. We went out into the road. Four mules stood there, in the moonlight, in the road where the trail came down off the mountain. The soldiers who led them stood there waiting. "This one is Captain Waskow," one of them said quietly.

Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off and laid it in the shadow beside the low stone wall. Other men took the other bodies off. Finally there were five lying end to end in a long row, alongside the road. You don't cover up dead men in the combat zone. They just lie there in the shadows until somebody else comes after them.
The unburdened mules moved off to their olive orchard. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually one by one I could sense them moving close to Capt. Waskow's body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.

One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, "God damn it." That's all he said, and then he walked away. Another one came. He said, "God damn it to hell anyway." He looked down for a few last moments, and then he turned and left.

Another man came; I think he was an officer. It was hard to tell officers from men in the half light, for all were bearded and grimy dirty. The man looked down into the dead captain's face, and then he spoke directly to him, as though he were alive. He said: "I sure am sorry, old man."

Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer, and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said:

"I sure am sorry, sir."

Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking intently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there.

And finally he put the hand down, and then he reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.

After that the rest of us went back into the cowshed, leaving the five dead men lying in a line, end to end, in the shadow of the low stone wall. We lay down on the straw in the cowshed, and pretty soon we were all asleep.

The second Iraqi war likely won't last long enough to produce a reporter with the same stature of Pyle, but it will produce dozens reporters with knowledge of the military and friends in the military, men who will explain and personify the inner life of the grunt and swabbie and tanker and flyboy. Their stories will do more damage to the anti-war movement over time than all the fiskings in the world.

*Some might disagree and cite Vietnam as a counter example, but the reporters tended to ride out on missions then go back to the hotel during that war. They didn't stay with the troops 24/7. Neil Sheehan's A Bright Shining Lie is my source for this, though I don't have it at hand.

More Pyle columns can be found here.

Posted by Bigwig at March 21, 2003 12:14 AM | TrackBack
Postscript:
First time visitor to House Hraka? Wondering if everything we produce could possibly be as brilliant/stupid/evil/pedantic/insipid/inspired as the post you just read? Check out the Hraka Essentials, the (mostly) reader-selected guide to Hraka's best posts, and decide for yourself.
Comments
Post a comment Note: Comments with more than two dashes per line will be blocked as spam.









Remember personal info?