The Iraq War has left a scar on society over time, but Army journalist Fred Minnick still feels a dull pain almost five years after returning home. His new book, "Camera Boy: An Army Journalist's War in Iraq," captures his experiences in Iraq through his writing and photographs.
As a U.S. Army public affairs journalist, Minnick's job was basically to tell soldiers' stories. He joined missions and raids, documented car and building bombings, and photographed deployed troops doing their daily jobs. He was a staff sergeant with the Army before transferring to the public affairs side.
"(I documented) those sorts of things that basically encompass everything we did in Iraq," he said. "Our job was to find and kill bad guys, and also rebuild the country, so I showed all sides of that."
Every day, he was by the military's side, and every day, he was prepared to die. Friendships sustained the author, and watching some of them pass away was the hardest thing Minnick said he's ever had to do.
"It was like someone took my soul out and stepped on it, you know, that's how bad it hurts," Minnick said. "We're all afraid of dying to begin with when we go to war, and so when we lose one of us, it's just so, so painful."
The opportunity to go to war almost passed him by when he was infected with Lyme disease, an inflammatory condition caused by a bacteria spread through tick bites. Doctors told him he could stay in the states because of the illness, but he chose to press on and cover the war full-throttle. When he returned in January 2005, he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, which kept him from traveling back to Iraq. But his admiration for the armed forces grew as his soldier buddies went back and forth, continuing to fight.
"Camera Boy" focuses on his and the soldiers' stories, and everything they saw together while serving overseas.
"All I try to show with my book is the sacrifices soldiers make and how " excuse my language " damn hard it is to lose someone, and then come home and adjust to a society that cares more about Michael Jackson," he said. "It's not just bombs and bullets, you know. There's a lot of great soldiers out there."
Minnick will sign copies of "Camera Boy" at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway. "Paige Lawler