One of the articles Blair was found to have lied in - 19 April 2003
[What follows is the entire New York Times article, written by Blair and published on 19 April 2003.
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April 19, 2003
In Military Wards, Questions and Fears From the Wounded
By Jayson Blair
BETHESDA, Md., April 18 -- Lance Cpl. James Klingel of the Marines finds himself lost in thought these days when he is not struggling with the physical pain, his mind wandering from images of his girlfriend back in Ohio to the sight of an exploding fireball to the sounds of twisting metal.
Often, Corporal Klingel says, he is jolted from sleep at the National Naval Medical Center here, at times because of the aches and throbs in his right arm and right leg, and at other times because of the images of the Iraq war that the chaplains say will not likely go away soon.
More than two weeks after being seriously wounded by a rocket-propelled grenade that hit his armored vehicle, Corporal Klingel says he is glad to begin walking again, but disheartened because he will most likely limp the rest of his life and need to use a cane.
In the worst moments, though, Corporal Klingel, a scout, said he questioned the legitimacy of his emotional pain as he considered the marine in the next bed, Staff Sgt. Eric Alva, a distance runner whose right leg was blown off by a land mine, or Seaman Brian Alaniz, a Navy medic down the hall who lost his right leg when a mine exploded under him as he rushed to aid Sergeant Alva.
''It's kind of hard to feel sorry for yourself when so many people were hurt worse or died,'' said Corporal Klingel, 21, who added that it was about time for another appointment with a chaplain.
In news conferences and television appearances carefully orchestrated by military officials, many wounded service members here and at other hospitals displayed self-assurance and confidence in response to questions about their fears and futures. But in long conversations, many patients here tell of visits to chaplains and other counselors, as well as fright, remorse and other hard-to-explain feelings as some of the long-term physical and emotional effects of the war become evident.
For people like Sergeant Alva, 32, a supply chief who says he felt a sense of responsibility for many of the younger marines under him, stepping on a mine and losing his leg has been not just a physical ordeal. When military officials had him appear on television to discuss his injuries and the war, Sergeant Alva, who promised to run again in the Marine Corps Marathon, appeared confident and sturdy.
But in more private moments last week in the hospital, Sergeant Alva acknowledged that he had anger that he directed inward and toward the news media that he said were too hard on soldiers and a public that he said that did not really understand the costs of war.
''There is no point in explaining how I feel,'' he said, ''because no one really is going to be able to understand it.''
For the 495 wounded service members, recovery will continue long after most other Americans have moved on other things, as they try to stitch back the pieces of their lives. For many, their time at Bethesda and other military medical centers is the last stop on the road home, a chance to learn how to live without an arm or a leg, to battle long-lasting pain, to cope with loss of independence and to heal emotional scars that can be as acute as physical damage.
Corporal Klingel said that when his unit, which was providing security for a convoy under sniper fire from men in civilian clothes outside Baghdad, was attacked, he heard a thud followed by a bang and then saw orange fire and the door of his vehicle fly toward him. His right arm was broken. Shrapnel pierced his right leg and other parts of his body.
In that battle, he said, more than 20 other marines were wounded, and at least one was killed. The image of the bloodied body of the dead marine is stuck in his head, as well as that of the dead and wounded Iraqis who were caught in the crossfire.
''It's something I don't even want to think about,'' he said.
Corporal Klingel said he was cheered this week when President Bush and his wife, Laura, made the rounds, visiting dozens of wounded sailors and marines here and at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, several miles south in Washington.
Standing in front of a statue called ''The Unspoken Bond,'' which shows a corpsman, as Navy medics are called, carrying an injured marine, Mr. Bush praised the heroism of the wounded and the work of the doctors here. But Corporal Klingel said that many here did not feel much like heroes. He said he went to visit a chaplain the next day because of the dreams he was wrestling with nightly.
Explaining that he felt that his sense of safety and security ''was taken away in an instant'' on the day of the attack, the corporal said he told the chaplain in an hour-and-a-half conversation that he worried that long after he recovered physically he would struggle with the images in his head.
''He listened and told me it was normal, and that everything would be all right, eventually,'' Corporal Klingel said.
A first brush with death has had profound effects even on longtime officers. A senior officer, Lt. Col. Jonathan Ewers, a Marine lawyer based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., had not seen combat in his 19 years in the military. He spent the 1991 Persian Gulf war stationed in Hawaii.
But on March 22, as he was riding in a Humvee through a British-controlled area of southern Iraq in search of the father of an injured Iraqi boy who had been found by marines, Colonel Ewers came under attack. The 43-year-old colonel remembers hearing what he believes were rocket-propelled grenades coming out of nowhere followed by bursts of small arms fire before he felt wetness and numbness in his left arm, as blood came pouring through the sleeve of his fatigues. Before the firefight was over several minutes later, Colonel Ewers was shot in the other arm and his right foot.
''It was the first time I had been attacked, and it still has me a little bit shaken,'' he said. ''At each turn, we were hit with another attack, and I was just convinced that it was it.''
For some people like Pfc. Donald R. Schafer, 23, who was critically wounded on April 5, the effects of their injuries on their families are the greatest worry. After driving an hour from her house in Essex, Md., Private Schafer's mother, Laura Brune, arrived at Walter Reed, where Army officials said her son was undergoing surgery. But he was not there. Later, military officials sorted out the mistake and sent her to Bethesda, where Private Schafer was in good condition with bullet wounds in the right arm.
''I'm not looking forward to my mom having to take care of me,'' Private Schafer said.
For many who were seriously injured, the burden on their families for help in recovering will be great.
Sergeant Alva, who has had 10 operations since stepping on the mine on March 22, blames himself for the injuries of Seaman Alaniz, who is 28. If he had not been dumb enough to step on the mine, Sergeant Alva concluded, his friend would have never been injured.
There had been warnings about mines, Sergeant Alva said, but the general feeling was that most of the mines had been cleared from the area where his convoy was moving. Sergeant Alva said he did not think much of it when he walked around his Humvee on a break to grab a meal. The next thing he remembers was falling on his back, and then seeing several people rush toward him, including Seaman Alaniz.
Sergeant Alva, who said he did not even realize that he had lost his leg until hours after the explosion, did not find out until days later at a military medical center in Kuwait that Seaman Alaniz had survived.
Seaman Alaniz, who has been learning to use crutches, not only lost his right leg, but also had a finger torn off, broke his left leg and took shrapnel in his groin and arms.
''He was rushing to save me, because I made a stupid mistake,'' the sergeant said, ''and then got hurt worse than me.''
The two men, who were good friends at Camp Pendleton, where they often took 10-mile hikes together, have made a pact to encourage each other through recovery.
First Lt. Jim Hutchinson, 25, a Marine platoon commander, remembers hearing the explosion and feeling his body being flung through the air as the sounds of gunshots resounded in every direction. After landing, he checked his body and arose and ran, ordering his men to find cover. What he did not realize until his legs buckled several seconds later was that shrapnel had ripped through his hands and legs.
''I was just running on adrenalin,'' said the lieutenant, whose platoon was part of an engineering battalion based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., that came under fire on March 27 after having destroyed crates of rocket-propelled grenades on the outskirts of Nasiriya.
In all, 30 marines with his platoon were wounded that day.
''I feel awful that I'm back here,'' said Lieutenant Hutchinson, who wonders whether there was more that he could have done for his men. ''It's not right for a platoon commander to be away from his marines.''
Early this week, Corporal Klingel was given a plane ticket, courtesy of a Navy charity, to fly to Harrisville Township, Ohio, to rest at his parents' house. He said he hoped that the nightmares would fade, but feared that he would have to live with them for a long time.
''The firefight scared the hell out of me,'' he said. ''But this -- moving forward -- is just as scary.''
After mentioning how much he looked forward to standing out on his parents' porch and staring into the wilderness, he added: ''I am still looking over my shoulder. I am sure I will be standing on the back porch and worry about who might come shooting at me out of the bush. It's changed me.''