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In the First Person: Photojournalist Bill Putnam

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In the First Person: A Rocket Attack in Iraq

Almost every day, we hear another report of a rocket attack on U.S. soldiers in Iraq. This morning we hear a first-hand account of a near-miss from Corporal Bill Putnam, a military journalist for the Army News Service. He's been serving in Iraq for two months. David Sommerstein met Putnam while he was in Kosovo. They've arranged for Putnam to send occasional audio diaries of his experiences.  Go to full article
Hamming it up for the camera at the bakery.
Hamming it up for the camera at the bakery.

Audio Diary: Chatting at a Baghdad Bakery

Today we hear the sounds of the everday in Iraq, from Corporal Bill Putnam, a photojournalist with the Army's 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. David Sommerstein met Bill when he was reporting from Kosovo in 2002. Bill's stationed now at Camp Ferrin-Huggin in southern Baghdad. A few days ago he was with a unit patrolling through a run-down neighborhood of Baghdad, a couple miles from the international airport. They came upon a bakery, a hotspot for conversation and gossip, and stopped to chat. Here's Bill's audio diary.  Go to full article
U.S. soldiers carry away a boy grazed by a bullet.
U.S. soldiers carry away a boy grazed by a bullet.

In the First Person: A Boy Dies in Iraq

As violence continues to plague Iraq, the stress and tragedy it provokes takes its toll on Iraqis and on American soldiers. Earlier this summer in Iraq six churches were car bombed. A dozen people were killed and almost 50 wounded. Nearby that same night, in Baghdad's Al-Rashid neighborhood, Corporal Bill Putnam witnessed another fatality of war and sent us this audio diary. Putnam is a photojournalist with the Army's 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. David Sommerstein met him in Kosovo in 2002. A note: this story contains some graphic descriptions.  Go to full article
A 1-8 Cavalry soldier drives through the Abu Dasheer neighborhood of Baghdad's Al Rashid district.  Photos by Bill Putnam
A 1-8 Cavalry soldier drives through the Abu Dasheer neighborhood of Baghdad's Al Rashid district. Photos by Bill Putnam

Election Night on Patrol in Baghdad

While the country was glued to the radio or TV on election night earlier this month, thousands of American soldiers stationed in Iraq were going about their regular duties. Among them was Corporal Bill Putnam, a photojournalist with the Army's 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. I met Putnam when I reported from Kosovo in 2002. He's been sending me audio diaries of his experiences in Iraq. On election night, Putnam was on patrol in the Abu Dasheer neighborhood of Baghdad.  Go to full article
Investigators from a joint US-British bomb investigation team look at a bomb crater at a christian church for evidence Nov. 8.  The crater was 18 feet wide by 5 feet deep.  Photos by Bill Putnam.
Investigators from a joint US-British bomb investigation team look at a bomb crater at a christian church for evidence Nov. 8. The crater was 18 feet wide by 5 feet deep. Photos by Bill Putnam.

In the 1st Person: Enforcing the Curfew in Baghdad

During the battle of Fallujah, insurgent attacks surged in the Al Rashid district of Baghdad, where Corporal Bill Putnam of the Army's 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment is stationed. Putnam is a photojournalist David Sommerstein met in Kosovo a couple years ago. In his words, insurgents could be flushed out of Fallujah and sipping tea in his neighborhood within an hour.

Yesterday he sent us an audio diary from a patrol the night of the U.S. elections. A couple days later he went out on patrol with the 1-8th Cavalry Division - or the "1-8 Cav" - to enforce the curfew imposed in Baghdad earlier this month. Here's Putnam's audio diary from that patrol.  Go to full article

Audio Diary: A Raid on an Insurgent Suspect

There are fewer than three weeks until national elections in Iraq. Insurgent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and citizens continue. Last week, the commander of American ground forces in Iraq told the New York Times 4 of 18 provinces in the country are still not safe enough for people to vote. One of those provinces is Baghdad, where Army photojournalist Corporal Bill Putnam is stationed with the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. He's been sending us audio diaries. Troops frequently conduct raids to find insurgent leaders. Putnam went on one raid last month in the Al-Rashid neighborhood of Baghdad. Soldiers were looking for a suspected cell leader of Sunni insurgents. Here's Putnam's audio diary.  Go to full article
A U.S. soldier guards the suspected terrorist cell leader before the interrogation.  (Photo by Bill Putnam)
A U.S. soldier guards the suspected terrorist cell leader before the interrogation. (Photo by Bill Putnam)

In the First Person: An Insurgent Interrogation in Baghdad

Iraqi officials estimate voter turnout was higher than the 57 percent predicted before the yesterday's election. Iraqis stood in long lines to vote in defiance of mortar attacks, suicide bombers and boycott calls. But in some regions, turnout is estimsted in the single digits, as the pace of bombings and other violent attacks dissuaded many from voting. The capital city, Baghdad, is among the most dangerous places. That's where Army photojournalist Bill Putnam is stationed. Putnam's with the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. He's been sending us audio diaries of his experiences. Today he tells us about the December interrogation of a suspected insurgent.  Go to full article

A Soldier in Iraq Goes Home

For the last 10 months, we've been hearing audio diaries from Baghdad from Corporal Bill Putnam. He's a photojournalist with the Army's 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. He and David Sommerstein met in Kosovo several years ago. Earlier this month, Putnam completed his tour of duty in Iraq. He flew out of the country on a Blackhawk helicopter and sent one last audio diary.  Go to full article
Bill Putnam on a mission in Baghdad
Bill Putnam on a mission in Baghdad

Photo-journalist Going Back to Iraq

More than 3000 soldiers from Fort Drum near Watertown will deploy to Iraq next week. The 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team has been training for the mission for months. On Monday during The 8 O'Clock Hour, David Sommerstein has a report on how the Army trains its soldiers to deal with the media, what they can and can't say, and how troops see the embedded reporters and cameramen on the battlefield. Today David's with us to talk about a deployment of a different sort. His friend, photojournalist Bill Putnam, is getting ready to return to Iraq as a freelance stringer for Time magazine. Last year, Putnam was sending us audio diaries from Baghdad, where he was stationed with an Army public affairs unit.  Go to full article

Covering the Al-Hamra Hotel Bombing

The situation is Iraq continues to be very dangerous for foreigners. Yesterday the Associated Press reported 11 foreigners were abducted. Earlier this month, two car bombs targeted the Al-Hamra Hotel in Baghdad, where many foreign journalists stay. 8 Iraqis died in the blast. Freelance photojournalist Bill Putnam was staying near the hotel, at Time Magazine's house. He was in his room when the first bomb went off. He sent us this audio diary.  Go to full article
Sheik Rokhan with Captain Lackey.  Photo by Bill Putnam.
Sheik Rokhan with Captain Lackey. Photo by Bill Putnam.

In the First Person: A Sunni Sheik on Election Eve

In Iraq, tribal Sheiks are often central figures for the U.S. military. Unit commanders meet often with sheiks to talk about local events and act as a mutual bridge between U.S. soldiers and Iraqis. Lately, a lot of the talk has centered on Thursday's elections. Freelance photojournalist Bill Putnam recently sat in on one such conversation. Captain Adam Lackey of the 101st Airborne Division spoke with a sheik in Bayji, in the area known as the Sunni triangle. Their conversation was far-ranging, from the Sunni sheik's surprising support of a Shiite candidate, to concerns over ballot rigging and Iran, to the sheik's desires for a secular Iraq. Putnam sent us this audio postcard.  Go to full article

Soldiers: Iraq "Totally" Different From Afganistan

Just last month, the 10th Mountain Division deployed to Afghanistan for the third time since 2001. Meanwhile, hundreds of soldiers in the division's 1st Brigade now in Iraq are veterans of the last deployment to the mountains of Afghanistan. Not everything the soldiers learned or experienced in the mountains there applies to the deserts of Iraq though. Freelance journalist Bill Putnam is embedded with the 10th Mt. Division in Iraq. He talked with soldiers with the brigade's 1st of the 87th Infantry about the differences -- and how they're applying the lessons they learned in the mountains to the deserts.  Go to full article
Bill Putnam
Bill Putnam

Talking with Iraqis about the War

Yesterday, President Bush said Americans need to look beyond violence in Iraq for signs of progress. The president told an audience in Cleveland he understands why some Americans are disheartened by daily images of "savage" violence from Iraq. On Capitol Hill, Senator Joe Biden said Iraq is in what he calls a low-grade civil war, and may be on the brink of a full-blown civil war when militias fully engage in the violence.

However you frame it, civilians are dying every day as the war enters its fourth year. Freelance journalist Bill Putnam has been embedded with 10th Mt. Divison soldiers in Iraq this year as they've patrolled in and around Baghdad. Thousands of Iraqis come to the main American base - camp Liberty outside Baghdad International Airport to work every day. Most of their jobs are in construction or contracting. A few own stores at the local bazaar on camp. Putnam says local people are like ghosts to many American soldiers - seen but rarely heard. It's hard to have a conversation, but not impossible.  Go to full article

Crash course in combat photography in Iraq

Photojournalist Bill Putnam was in the Army when he met David Sommerstein in Kosovo in 2002. He's been living in the heart of the chaotic, violent world of Baghdad for two years - one year as a soldier, another as a freelancer stringing for Time magazine and ZUMA Photo Agency. He's back home in Portland, Oregon now. Putnam spoke with David Sommerstein about war-time photojournalism.  Go to full article
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.
Village elders attend a shura near Margah, Afghanistan, not far from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border June 24, 2010.

An explosive meeting with Afghan elders

The war in Afghanistan continues to proceed with limited success and lots of violence. General David Petraeus said yesterday the Taliban's momentum has been reversed in many parts of the country. But he urged caution over hopes for an American pullback of troops next summer. Photojournalist Bill Putnam recently returned from Afghanistan after a six-week embed with an infantry company in the 101st Airborne. He spent part of that time at Combat Outpost Margah, not far from the mountainous border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And he saw firsthand the challenges U.S. troops face trying to persuade local leaders to turn away from the Taliban. Putnam attended a "shura," or council, one day called by an American Army officer. The meeting was to discuss reports that local elders had been meeting with Taliban leaders in Pakistan. In this audio diary, Putnam reports the meeting went well - with one big exception.  Go to full article

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Audio Slideshows

Audio Slideshow
Iraq Diary: Chatting at a Baghdad Bakery
Corporal Bill Putnam is a photojournalist with the Army's 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment at Camp Ferrin-Huggin in southern Baghdad. A few days ago he was with a unit patrolling through a run-down neighborhood of Baghdad near the airport. They came upon a bakery, a hotspot for conversation and gossip, and stopped to chat.
Audio Slideshow
Iraq Diary: A Raid on an Insurgent Suspect
Army photojournalist Corporal Bill Putnam is stationed in Baghdad with the 122nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. Troops frequently conduct raids to find insurgent leaders. Putnam went on one raid last month in the Al-Rashid neighborhood of Baghdad. Soldiers were looking for a suspected cell leader of Sunni insurgents.
Audio Slideshow
Iraq Diary: A Soldier Goes Home
Earlier this month, Army photojournalist Cpl. Bill Putnam completed his tour of duty in Iraq. He flew out of the country on a Blackhawk helicopter and sent one last audio diary.
bombing victim
Audio Slideshow:
Covering the Al-Hamra Hotel Bombing
Photojournalist Bill Putnam was too close to Baghdad's Al-Hamra Hotel on November 18, when two truck bombs detonated, laying waste to the neighborhood.
faso cartoon
Audio Slideshow:
Crash-course in combat photography in Iraq
Photojournalist Bill Putnam was in the Army when he met David Sommerstein in Kosovo in 2002. He’s been living in the heart of the chaotic, violent world of Baghdad for two years. Putnam spoke with David Sommerstein about war-time photojournalism.