'Long Road Home' Chronicles Ambush In Iraq, Aftermath

February 27th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: 'Long Road Home' Chronicles Ambush In Iraq, Aftermath

USA Today
February 27, 2007
Pg. 2D

By Peter Johnson, USA TODAY
An Army captain told ABC News' Martha Raddatz at lunch last week that civilians often ask, "You couldn't get another job, that's why you're in the Army?"
It didn't surprise the officer, a Harvard alum with a postgraduate degree. Nor did it surprise Raddatz, ABC's White House correspondent, who spent 12 years covering the Pentagon and has made frequent trips to Iraq since the U.S. invasion.
Most Americans, says Raddatz, 54, "have no clue of the depth of people in the military or the diversity, or just what they deal with every day."
Just what they deal with becomes clear early on in Raddatz's first book, The Long Road Home (Putnam, $24.95), out this week. The book chronicles an ambush April 4, 2004, of an Army platoon on a routine peacekeeping mission in Sadr City, just hours after their arrival from Fort Hood, Texas.
None of the soldiers pinned down during the ambush had ever seen combat. Nor had any of the soldiers in four convoys who rushed to their aid in canvas-topped trucks and Bradleys that were ill-equipped for the barrage of automatic weapons fire and rocket-propelled grenades that awaited them.
In the end, eight U.S. soldiers were dead and more than 60 wounded. Raddatz first covered the battle and its aftermath in a series of reports for ABC's Nightline, and now in more depth in Long Road, alternating her narrative between the front lines and the home front.
It's a story of "how a bunch of guys had literally gone from Fort Hood to the middle of a nightmare in urban terrain in one of the densest populated areas, at night, basically in a open convertible minivans and giant pickup trucks," Raddatz says.
It's also a story of how deeply what transpires on the battlefield resonates back home with soldiers' anxious families, who reminisce to Raddatz about what they were thinking and feeling on that fateful day.
"It's a very strange disconnect: reporting on families who are just getting up that morning and have not a clue that some of their loved ones had died," Raddatz says. (She notes that the Pentagon does not notify families of death or injury between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. local time, "or else no one would get any sleep.")
Even though she's no longer covering the Pentagon, Raddatz returns to Iraq every few months to be with the troops.
"I just feel I have a stake in it," Raddatz says. "It's the No. 1 story on the White House beat. The president knows I go over there. He asks me when I get back how it was or what I saw. He's very respectful of that, and that's a good thing for me."
To Raddatz, all the soldiers in Long Road Home are heroes. "But I would never sit down and say, 'You are a hero,' because I know these guys don't want to hear it. To them, they were just doing their jobs."

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