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Charlotte Observer's Mark Johnson '88 in Iraq Covering War

March 31, 2003

March 31, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - Mark Johnson, political reporter for the Charlotte Observer and a 1988 graduate of DePauw University, has a first-hand perspective on the war in Iraq. Johnson "was supposed to visit Media Center Director David Bohmer's class to participate in a community journalism discussion," writes Eric Bernsee of Greencastle's Banner-Graphic. "But somewhere between North Carolina and Greencastle, he ended up volunteering to fly to Kuwait with the 82nd Airborne instead." Johnson may be in the Middle East covering the war, but he "kept his word, calling in to offer a glimpse at evolving history from the other side of the world." Since the battle began, Johnson has followed the 82nd Airborne into Iraq.

"Like a lot of reporters, I just love the front-row seat to history. And war is probably the biggest event in history," Johnson told students in Greencastle "through a crackling phone line as the sounds of military maneuvers provided a backdrop," Bernsee reports. "The students listened intently as Johnson explained he couldn't reveal his exact location because of his presence with the 82nd Airborne." 

Mark Johnson talked with the students March 14, five days before the conflict began. He said that the troops are appreciative of the media's presence. "You are their connection to the rest of the world. You're their signal that somebody outside the Big Green Machine cares about them and what happens to them." He also stated that news from the outside was scarce, and when it did arrive, was usually several days old, and that the sand requires him to sleep at night with his eyes and mouth covered. "It's not like the sand at the beach. It's fine, powdery stuff. It coats your clothes. You breathe it in. You can't escape it."

You can access the article in its entirety at the Banner-Graphic's Web site by clicking here. You can read Mark Johnson's reports from the Middle East here.

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