National Geographic : 2017 Nov
PHOTO: ADAM FERGUSON THIS INTERVIEW WAS EDITED FOR LENGTH AND CLARITY. | FROM THE EDITOR | REPORTING ON WAR Susan Goldberg: You covered the Iraq War from the beginning. Why was this the story that you wanted to tell? Martha Raddatz: On April 4, 2004, in Baghdad, a platoon of the 1st Cavalry Division was ambushed and lost eight guys—the largest loss of life for the di- vision since Vietnam. Just hearing the details later, I had to write about it. Truly, even after years of doing this kind of work, it was my first time telling the story of people in the battle for their lives. SG: What did you find especially moving? MR: There’s a quote in the front of the book from Lt. Col. Gary Volesky, who says, “Some guys have seen things that no one ever wants to see.... I understand now what it means when you go to a veterans’ ceremony and you see the old veterans get together and hug and cry, and you never really understood it. I understand it now.” SG: For the 1st Cavalry Division the emo- tional impact of that loss must have been enormous. How did that play out? MR: On one of my trips I saw Col. Robert Abrams, who’s the son of Gen. Creighton Abrams [a U.S. commander during the Vietnam War]. I was asking him about this battle, and he said, “It’s not us—it’s the families.” And he broke down in uncontrollable sobbing. He was just horrified that he’d done that. And I said, “Colonel Abrams, don’t worry about it. It’s a beautiful tribute to the men who died.” Abrams wrote an email that day to [his commander] Gen. Peter Chiarelli. The general showed it to us, and it said, STORIES OF SERVICE AND SACRIFICE For more than a century this magazine has told stories of war and its consequences. That’s also what journalist Martha Raddatz (right) did in The Long Road Home, her book about a deadly Iraq War ambush, its casualties, and its survivors. A scripted series based on the book premieres November 7 at 9/8c on National Geographic.