Scranton, Pa., Embeds’ Unit Attacked in Iraq

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By: Shawn Moynihan

Two Scranton (Pa.) Times and Tribune journalists embedded in Iraq with National Guard troops from the Scranton-based 2nd Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment, reported Monday that their unit was attacked early Sunday morning when a roadside bomb was detonated between two Humvees.

The embeds were not on the scene when the explosive was triggered. No one was injured in the blast, which occurred in the Abu-Ghraib section of Baghdad at approximately 3:20 a.m.

Reporter/columnist Christopher J. Kelly and photographer Michael J. Mullen are among the relatively few American journalists who have an embedded arrangement with the U.S. military today. More than 600 were officially embedded at the height of the Iraq war last spring.

Kelly and Mullen are filing daily stories and photos from Iraq for The Scranton Times and The Tribune. Kelly also writes a daily first-person column detailing the experience. Both appear daily at www.scrantontimes.com.

In his column Monday, Kelly wrote that Staff Sgt. Ralph Watkins, who witnessed the attack, told him, “If you print anything, make it that we need more up-armored Humvees. They save soldiers’ lives.”

The pair were invited by the Scranton-based battalion to travel with the military to and from Iraq, eat rations, sleep in tents in the field, accompany troops on security missions and generally participate with them in the full experience. The two journos had to meet the same requirements of previous embeds, including training and the requisite military paperwork.

Reader response, says Times/Tribune Assistant Managing Editor John Murphy, “has been phenomenal, especially the response from the [military] families. Even people who don’t have relatives over there are reading every word.” The two embeds are expected to return to Scranton some time in mid-April, although no date has been set.

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