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One of the articles Blair was found to have lied in - 7 April 2003

[What follows is the entire New York Times article, written by Blair and published on 7 April 2003.

The article can be accessed on the paper's website here. The article is The New York Times' copyright but is published here in full. As with all other articles on this site, I ask the publishers to recognise the historical value of having their work readily accessible in one place. This site seeks no commercial gain, only to serve as a resource for the future.

Any questions, queries should be directed to kieren@jaysonblair.com.]

April 7, 2003

For One Pastor, the War Hits Home

By Jayson Blair

CLEVELAND, April 6 -- The Rev. Tandy Sloan has presided over many a funeral and memorial service in his decades as a pastor in a section of the city that has seen its share of violence.
He has consoled weeping mothers, crestfallen fathers and widows searching for answers. He has held them gently and told them that for those who believe, a reunion will take place, someday soon.

But today it was Mr. Sloan, a preacher at the Historical Greater Friendship Baptist Church here in the Forest Hills section of Cleveland, who was looking for answers, discontented with consoling words. With his head slumped, he said the knots were growing tighter and larger in his stomach as he wondered, tried to find some understanding, of why his only child had to die 6,000 miles away in Iraq.

''I'm trying,'' Mr. Sloan said, pausing as congregants walked by and nodded to him, his eyes glassy and red from tears. ''I am trying. I am trusting in the Lord. I know the Lord is still able.''
As has happened for thousands whose children, parents or friends have died in the invasion of Iraq, life has been turned upside down for Mr. Sloan. His 19-year-old son, Pfc. Brandon U. Sloan, a supply clerk in the Army, was pronounced dead on Saturday.

Much attention has been focused on the rescue of Pfc. Jessica Lynch, who served with Private Sloan in the 507th Maintenance Company, based at Fort Bliss near El Paso. But many more families of members of the unit are not being lavished with attention by the Defense Department and politicians. They are not flying to Germany, like the Lynch family, to reunite with their loved one.

''Being a pastor does not insulate you from the hurt, the pain, the anger,'' Mr. Sloan, 44, said.
''The natural inclination is toward resentment, bitterness, even hatred,'' he added, noting that he had thought all along that President Bush should have given diplomacy more of a chance before invading Iraq.

The 507th Maintenance Company was attacked in southern Iraq on March 23, and at least six members, including Private Lynch, were captured by Iraqi forces. Five members of the company, who were shown being interrogated in images broadcast on Iraqi television, are listed as prisoners of war, and 12 have been declared dead.

Private Sloan is one of two dead soldiers from the 507th who lived in this area. The other, Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland, was also pronounced dead on Saturday. He was only 18 months away from retirement.

Two decades ago, Tandy Sloan moved to the suburbs of Cleveland with his wife, Kimberly, to work in Baptist churches here. As Mr. Sloan worked in the city, the family moved from suburb to suburb looking for the best place to rear their son, until about two years ago, when they divorced.
After the divorce, Brandon moved into an apartment with his father in Bedford Hills, a suburb about 14 miles southeast of downtown Cleveland. At Bedford High School, friends and relatives say, Brandon was a popular student and a defensive lineman on the football team.

In his senior year, in the fall of 2001, Brandon dropped out of school to join the Army. Mr. Sloan said his son had wanted to obtain computer skills he could parlay into a good job.

''His thinking to join the Army was altruistic in the sense that he was bettering his own self while serving his country,'' Mr. Sloan said.

After enlisting in 2001, Private Sloan became a supply clerk and was assigned to Fort Bliss. In January, he was sent to Kuwait with the 507th. The last time Mr. Sloan heard from his son was in late February, when Brandon sent him an e-mail message from a base in Kuwait.

The next news he heard about him, Mr. Sloan said, was on March 23, when he learned that the 507th had been ambushed. He turned off the television that day, and he says he has not turned it back on since.

For more than a week, Mr. Sloan said, his life was in a ''holding pattern'' -- except for the nightly visits to Historic Greater Friendship, where he is the associate pastor.

Last Wednesday, a day after Jessica Lynch was rescued, the church held a service in support of Brandon Sloan.

The church was packed, something congregants say is unusual for any weekday night. Women in ornate hats were surrounded by police officers and soldiers, bikers and elegant men in suits and ties.

The news that five prisoners of war from the unit had appeared on television gave him hope that others had survived, Mr. Sloan said. And the rescue of Private Lynch gave him the feeling that any day now he would receive good news from the Army officials who had been in contact with him.
''It made me think that there was some chance that Brandon was still alive, out there somewhere,'' he said.

As the gospel choir brought worshipers to their feet, swaying and clapping, Mr. Sloan said, he felt in a world unto himself as he stared at his Bible. But he was not reading its verses; he was gazing at a photograph inside, of his son at graduation from basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C.

The senior pastor, the Rev. Larry Howard, opened the prayer service by reminding the several hundred people who had gathered that God was ''bigger than Hussein.'' Mr. Sloan bowed his head and closed his eyes. He could hear the women, mostly family members, weeping behind him, and, as he recalls, he started to cry.

''We still have hope,'' Mr. Sloan said after taking the pulpit. ''Hope hasn't gone anywhere.''

He continued, smiling as the father waiting for his son was overtaken by the preacher ministering to his flock. ''I'm all right,'' he said. ''Brandon is all right. But the question is, are you all right?''
By morning services today, less than a day after the Defense Department had declared Private Sloan dead, that was the question many people were asking Mr. Sloan, who tried his best to assure them with soft-spoken words.

In his deep, rich baritone, Mr. Sloan, composed and stoic for the moment, replied to one well-wisher, ''There is something about times like these, times of distress, that brings us all together.''
Then Mr. Sloan walked into the church. The service that followed was the first one since his son disappeared at which he did not speak.

He stood in the front row with the other pastors, bowed his head, clapped with the gospel choir and tried to smile.