The postwar violence facing journalists, such as ABC News’ Bob Woodruff who suffered serious injuries in Iraq on Monday, is much worse than the wartime situation in 2003, said a veteran photojournalist Tuesday.Mike Heimbuch, a photojournalist for NBC 5, spent eight weeks in 2003 on patrol around Iraq embedded with Marine Corps Task Force Tarawa.
Heimbuch said Iraq is different for journalists today because of the increased use of improvised explosive devices.
“The IED is the most dangerous thing for journalists now,” Heimbuch said. “They’re really not designed to kill. They’re designed to maim.”
While accompanying Task Force Tarawa, Heimbuch saw nearly a week of solid combat in Nasiriyah, which had been an Iraqi stronghold at the beginning of the war.
“Nasiriyah was a very unfriendly place for about seven days,” Heimbuch said.
Despite the difficulties in Nasiriyah, Heimbuch said it was easier to identify good guys and bad guys because of the presence of an Iraqi military. The fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime and the current insurgency has changed that.
In addition to Iraqi troops, Heimbuch said an enemy of another kind existed.
“Sand was more of an enemy than anything else,” Heimbuch said. “It penetrates everything. You woke up with a mouth full of sand.”
Heimbuch said the highlight of his stay in Iraq was breaking the story of Jessica Lynch’s capture and the subsequent rescue operation.
Ashley King, a senior advertising/public relations major, said she found Heimbuch’s perspective on the relationship embedded journalists shared with the military informative.
“They both came to the understanding that ‘you’re there to do a job, and we’re here to do a job, so might as well do it together,'” King said.
Heimbuch said he may never make a million dollars in his profession, but he is sure he is having a lot of fun in the process.
Heimbuch will soon leave the country again to cover the winter Olympic games in Torino, Italy.