On Being A Military Journalist

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

Military journalists are just that. They are service men and women working for the military, and assigned to put the military’s best face forward. That was our job at the Public Information Office (“PIO”). I was one of those military journalists, working in a war zone – Vietnam. Unlike the civilian press, however, we did not report the news, instead we told the stories of the men and women serving in Vietnam that made the news on the 6 o’clock news.

ON BEING A MILITARY JOURNALIST

By Al Garcia

Military journalists are just that.  They are service men and women working for the military, and assigned to put the military’s best face forward.  That was our job at the Public Information Office (“PIO”).  I was one of those military journalists, working in a war zone – Vietnam.  Unlike the civilian press, however, we did not report the news, instead we told the stories of the men and women serving in Vietnam that made the news on the 6 o’clock news. 

The civilian press reported on the casualties, the battles and the atrocities of the war.  We, on the other hand, reported the “civilized” side of the men causing the casualties, fighting the battles, and committing the atrocities. 

We weren’t really “playing with the Big Boys” (the civilian press), they were in the Major Leagues, while we were the Little Leaguers on the same playing field – the war.  We, however, probably saw the truth behind the casualties, the battles and the atrocities that the Big Boys were reporting on, because we were living the war, not just “visiting” the war as the Big Boys were.  This was the difference that frustrated and distressed us at the PIO as time went on, because we could not voice the anguish nor the torture that we heard and saw every time that we went out on an assignment.  We could not report on the hopelessness we saw in the faces of those we spoke with, nor could we tell of the isolation and loneliness that we heard in the words they spoke.

Each time we went out on assignment, we brought back with us in our minds, the faces, the ach we heard in their words, the unspoken anguish we felt in their silence, and the helplessness and grief we identified with, in each young man we met and spoke to. 

This was to be the alien and hidden time bomb within each of us at the PIO that we returned with when we finally left Vietnam.  Today, it lives within us.  Some days the memories more powerful, other days, bearable, but not forgettable.  Never forgettable. 

For those of us who saw and experienced the war as combat journalists, the war has never ended, not even after we returned to the green, green grass of home.


Submitted: October 06, 2021

© Copyright 2021 A.Garcia. All rights reserved.

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