Another local paper covering a local soldier

Home from ‘the killing zone’

This one from the Orangeburg, South Carolina Times and Democrat. I noticed it because it registered a Google hit on “interceptor body armor”. This story is about Orangeburg’s Derek Fogle, a soldier in Alpha Company (the “Gators”) 1-21 Infantry, part of the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade. (The Times and Democrat calls it the “121st Infantry Regiment”, but this is apparently a misunderstanding of “1-21”, a common journalistic error when covering the military.)

Like almost every single newspaper story on a local soldier back from Iraq, this one notes that the soldier thinks things aren’t nearly as quagmirous as some would have us believe.

In the 10 months since they’ve been in Iraq, the Gators have learned what is a genuine attack and what is a feint. Using what Derek calls a “spray and pray” tactic, terrorists use the nearly indestructible AK-47s, which are practically everywhere, he said.

“We get pot shots taken at us every day. Until they engage us, we don’t pay attention (to the single shots),” he said. “But if they want to get into a fight, we welcome it because we will win every time.”


As for those living in Iraq, Derek said he believes the Iraqis are misunderstood by the American people.

The Iraqis — men, women and especially children — are generally friendly towards Americans, Derek said. It’s the outsiders, terrorists, who have moved into Iraq that are the real problem. Derek said he and his family fully support America’s part in ousting those people.

“You’ve got to look at the big picture; there’s a lot of reasons we’re over there,” he said. “The people we’re fighting in Iraq? They’re not Iraqis. They’re from Jordan, Iran, from all over the world. We’re just using Iraq as a kill zone. The Iraqis love us; kids just hug all over us.” (emphasis mine)

Who probably knows better: Michael Moore or Derek Fogle?

As I’ve noted before, the overwhelming majority of stories in smaller news outlets covering local soldiers has these exact same things to say. Does a local guy talking to a local reporter have a reason to lie? Does the small newspaper staff writer have a major agenda that he can advance with his story? Why is the picture painted by the big media as reported by big-name celebrities on major news outlets so different?

Also of interest to MO readers might be this passage:

Even as the Gators were taking the place of the 173rd Infantry Regiment earlier this year, they received their baptism of fire. While members of the 173rd took the Gators on a tour of their patrol area, a gunman concealed in a nearby building opened fire on the U.S. soldiers.

“I saw them (the 173rd soldiers) swing the 50 cal. around and open fire on the warehouse, and it opened up a huge hole in the side of the building,” Derek said. “We didn’t get shot at anymore that day.”

Peace through victory.

UPDATE: Check out the A/1-21 IN GATORS photo album.