Col. Kurilla: The local angle

The Minneapolis Star Tribune picks up on Michael Yon’s account of the Mosul firefight in which Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla was injured: “Blog brings the war home, literally.” Star Tribune reporters Aaron Blake and Rob Hotainken contacted family members for current information on Kurilla’s condition:

His family is expecting him to recover fully.
“He’s doing good,” said Tommy Raye, 42, a brother-in-law from Bogart, Ga. “I mean, that guy’s a warrior, dude.”
Raye described Kurilla as “extremely bright, on the scary side of the spectrum.” He said he was not surprised when he saw the photographs.
“There’s no surprise when he’s out front,” Raye said. “That’s just who he is. Some guys are born leaders. This guy’s a born leader. … He’s smart, tough and compassionate, all rolled into one. He is the guy you’re happy is on your side, straight up.”

The article also provides some background on Kurilla:

Kurilla, who’s stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash., went to Iraq in October. He graduated from West Point in 1988 and is a veteran of the U.S. invasion of Panama, the first Persian Gulf War, and has served in Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo.
He did not want the hospital to release any information regarding his medical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Raye said that Kurilla’s wife wasn’t interested in being interviewed but that “she’s doing great.”
Kurilla, who grew up in Minnesota, has two daughters under the age of 6, Raye said, and his mother still lives in Minnesota. She could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Toward the end of Yon’s account, he writes about how the men from Kurilla’s unit were taking down the Minnesota Vikings flag from his office and having everyone in the unit sign it.
Raye described Kurilla as “a huge Vikings fan,” and said former Vikings owner Red McCombs called Kurilla in the hospital to see how he was doing.
Kurilla has been a strong supporter of the war. In remarks at funerals for other soldiers, he has quoted Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill and William Shakespeare on their thoughts about war. He has also spelled out his own views.
“There are 26 million people in Iraq whose freedom we are fighting for, against terrorists and insurgents that want a return to power and oppression, or worse, a state of fundamentalist tyranny,” Kurilla said, adding that the United States is fighting “so that these fanatical terrorists do not enter the sacred ground of our country.”
And remembering the fallen warriors, he praised the people who make up the military: “Extraordinary men that would sacrifice their own lives for their fellow soldiers. Men who place the needs of others above their own. Men who accomplish every mission for no reason other than they do not want to let down their brother in arms.”

And the article addresses the provenance of the story on the Internet:

As Kurilla’s story finds an instant audience on the Internet, Paul Grabowitz, director of the new media studies program at the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, says blogs are permanently changing war coverage.
“It’s much easier, obviously, for a freelancer to publish information that they’ve gotten for a story, whether text or photos or whatever,” he said. “And it’s not like somebody standing on a street corner passing out flyers that they mimeographed of ‘My thoughts on the war in Iraq.’ The Internet has lent credence … to people who are independent, being part of the sort of mix of coverage of an event. … I don’t know how far that’s going to go.”
In Yon’s account, the medium became an extension of the battle, projecting Mosul to the rest of the world in real time.
“This was happening,” Yon said, “in seconds.”

Yon’s account, however, is most notable for reminding us what real war journalism looks like by contrast with the drumbeat of fatalities and futility served up daily in the Star Tribune and its elite exemplars among the lamestream media.
See also the terrific interview of Michael Yon by Hugh Hewitt that Generalissimo Duane has posted here at Radioblogger.
UPDATE: Steve Lee writes from the Grand Forks Herald:

Thanks for pointing out Yon’s stuff this week. It is incredible.
And, as you say, a new thing in journalism in the history of the world.
I was surprised but gratified to see the Strib do a story on it. You could praise the story a little bit; it was pretty well done and provides a great service, perhaps one almost no other metro daily provided so quickly on this phenomenon…


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