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Military matters

Since it is on our minds today, it makes sense that the topic of Iraq will be at the top of our broadcast tonight as well. There is much to report: the new troops on the way in, the investigation into the Marines' action at Haditha, and of course yesterday's casualties. We'll also look at the dangerous business of journalism in this war.

Also in tonight's broadcast, we'll update the situation on Java following the earthquake there, and report on the president's choice to head Treasury. We'll also note the end of the search for Jimmy Hoffa's body in Michigan.

Back to the lead story from Iraq: I commend to your attention the posts of late from our team over there, led by Richard Engel. Richard's premise is that he felt the concussion -- and believe me, he feels every one, along with the other members of our team over there. I read a great distillation last night from our veteran colleague at CBS  News, Allen Pizzey -- who in a post about their fallen crew and injured correspondent -- I think perfectly summed up the life of a foreign correspondent. 

About the relentless bad news from Iraq of late, especially the blast that took the lives of the CBS crew: let's also remember that an American family received word yesterday that their son, a Marine, a volunteer for duty, was killed on Memorial Day.

Dan Rather has written a lovely, emotional and gripping essay on his three CBS News co-workers and what they mean to him and to our profession. So while I will not attempt to make a significant addition to the biographical record, a few words are in order.

I last saw Kimberly Dozier in Mosul, during my last trip to Iraq. We had a great talk over several hours (as the U.S. commanding general we were covering met behind closed doors with local religious leaders) and I caught up with the last several months in her life. She is an ace reporter. She has all of Iraq wired, and has friends throughout the U.S. military. She is serious but hardly humorless, brave but never foolhardy. She toiled for years in her own solid, quiet way... without the title or recognition she deserved. Only recently did her coverage of the Iraq War receive the widespread recognition that top-flight correspondents are accustomed to. Even the most casual radio news listener has no doubt heard hundreds of reports she has filed over the years... often in the worst conditions, always with special attention paid to the facts and storytelling. We are all thinking of her and following her progress and prognosis.

I was able to find two photos today of trips I have made with Paul Douglas. One appears to be on board a Chinook helicopter in Iraq. The other, if memory serves, is on board a C-17 cargo jet en route to Bosnia. Friendships in journalism are often measured by the assignment. You will often hear things like, "I did Iraq and Somalia with him". If life is what happens between assignments or overseas trips, our work relationships mostly bear the name of the nation where we last gathered.  Paul and his partner James were those kind of guys: part of the "standing army" of field crews that make up the backbone of what we do for a living. They were as well-traveled as any people on earth, as resourceful as any infantryman, the guys you are thrilled to see when you arrive at a story anxious to discover who you're going to be sharing an aircraft/filing center/hotel lobby/motorcade with. We are thinking of their families.

Last night at a cookout with friends, we made a point to discuss the meaning of Memorial Day and note the sacrifice of the military families across this country. I then found myself engrossed in competing documentaries on Iraq veterans and their combat wounds on both MSNBC and CNN. It was a day for that kind of immersion, because it started with such bad news regarding members of our own extended journalism family.

We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.