As a reporter, sometimes I have to make miracles.
A story was pitched to me earlier this week about a training exercise for medical care providers. I was told medics would receive a patient and begin treatment in their mobile, tent hospital and send off the patient on a black hawk helocopter.
Basically, we'd get to see what it's like when medical staff has to respond to a casulty on the battlefield.
The timeline for the exercise was pushed back for hours. So, my photographer and I scrambled to find a way to salvage the story. No one inside the tent was actually training. Since we were in a down time lull, they kind hung at their stations practicing skills, but not really full-speed training.
I focused the story on the fact that this is training down before a unit deploys and touched on the unique capabilities of the unit (a Combat Support Hospital).
Not what I expected, but we made it work.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/search/?l=25&sd=desc&s=start_time&f=html&t=article%2Cvideo%2Cyoutube%2Ccollection&app=editorial&q=dolasinski
I locked myself in a backroom, isolated from the police scanner and reporters shouting questions into their phones to make it through 370 pages of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl answering an investigator's questions.
The transcript of the interview describes Bergdahl's upbringing in Idaho, panic attacks during basic training for the Coast Guard, why he planned to walk away, how he was captured and what he believes would be fair punishment. The interview was conducted Aug. 6 and 7, 2014, at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas.
You can read the full story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/military/in-newly-released-transcript-sgt-bowe-bergdahl-describes-night-he/article_2b80606b-5e0e-5c64-b60b-32bcb12221ad.html
I've spent the past week reading through the 370-page transcript of an interview Sg.t Bowe Bergdahl gave to then-Maj. Kenneth Dahl, the Army's investigating officer.
It's been an interesting read. The story will print this weekend in the Fayetteville Observer. I'll post a link next week!
A plane passes over a darkened drop zone at Fort Bragg. Paratroopers are jumping from the plane and you can see their parachutes inflate as they float to the ground.
This video was taken through the lens of night vision goggles.
Urgency sets in as these U.S. paratroopers work together to lay their M777 howitzer securely into a firing position in nearly complete darkness.
They know soldiers on the ground are waiting on them, depending on them to provide swift, meticulous fire support.
Staff Sgt. Kyle Shannon, the howitzer section chief, knows his crew is exhausted. They've spent hours lugging around heavy equipment and sprinting across the drop zone to prepare their howitzer.
Despite fatigue, reduced visibility and limitations on how much noise they can make, the crew has the howitzer laid and ready to fire in about an hour.
"We're support for everybody," Shannon said. "If we can't get rounds down, people can die. Or, they'd have to find another way to provide support, like aircraft, but they don't need to do that. We can do it."
Artillerymen of C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 82nd Division Artillery regularly conduct training to drop their M777 howitzer and jump behind it. The battery is part of a battalion that is one of just three airborne battalions in the continental U.S.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/military/artillerymen-train-to-provide-swift-fire-support-in-battle/article_def4b4c4-8c53-596e-83fc-f4525c46e40c.html
Above photo: A parachute rests on the ground as paratroopers continue to float from the aircraft to the drop zone.
Below photo: A crew from 82nd Airborne Division Artillery sets up their howitzer after dropping it and jumping from an aircraft during a nighttime training exercise at Fort Bragg.
These photos were taken through the lens of night vision goggles.
Spc. Nicholas Roberts must have known his weapons case didn't feel quite right.
The 27-year-old paratrooper asked the soldier jumping before him if his weapons case was positioned too low. The paratrooper told him to ask a jumpmaster, who is responsible for inspecting equipment before a jump.
The jumpmaster looked at Roberts' weapons case and said it was correct.
Roberts, of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died during a training jump over Sicily Drop Zone on April 28. Army investigators said improper rigging of his weapons case may have contributed to his death.
An investigation would later show that the jumpmaster team in place that night wasn't properly trained to rig and inspect the weapons case.
Roberts was the 16th jumper on the right door for the second pass of a C-17 during the training jump at Fort Bragg. It was the first time he was jumping at night with all of his equipment.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/military/improper-rigging-may-have-contributed-to-paratrooper-s-death-at/article_341e1b36-78e2-5549-96cd-3d75b4db1617.html
The lawyer for alleged deserter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl plans to use records of communication to gauge how much influence Congress has over the Pentagon.
Eugene R. Fidell, the civilian lawyer representing Bergdahl in his upcoming general court-martial at Fort Bragg, filed a civil lawsuit on Thursday pushing the Department of Defense to expedite action on a request he filed under the federal Freedom of Information Act. Fidell requested documents that show communication between any member, committee or staff member of Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense from May 31, 2014, to the date of the response.
You can read the story here: http://www.fayobserver.com/military/bergdahl-s-lawyer-files-lawsuit-pushing-for-release-of-conversations/article_97fa2577-d59f-562a-8adc-939cd1f02f38.html
Behind the byline
Here's an inside look at how some of my favorite stories came together.