The San Antonio Express-News' article that Blair plagiarised and was the catalyst for the subsequent investigation
[What follows is the entire San Antonio Express-News' article published on 18 April 2003 - the article that Blair copied quotes and details from and which sparked the investigation into his methods and previous articles.
The article can be accessed on the paper's website here. The article is the San Antonio Express-News' copyright but is published here in full. As with other articles on this site, I ask 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.
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18 April, 2003
A Valley mom awaits news of MIA son
by Macarena Hernandez
LOS FRESNOS — Words can't describe the emotions Juanita Anguiano has experienced since learning her 24-year-old son was missing "somewhere in Iraq ."
Juanita Anguiano, 45, of Los Fresnos, sits in her daughter's room near an altar she has built for her son, Edward Anguiano, 24, missing in action in Iraq since March 23.
So the single mother, a teacher's aide, points to the ceiling fan he installed in her small living room. She points to the pinstriped couches, the tennis bracelet still in its red velvet case and the Martha Stewart patio furniture, all gifts from her first born and only son.
Her handyman, the man of her house.
"I guess he had that, 'I have to help my sisters and my mom' " attitude, said Anguiano, 45. "He felt an obligation to me. I really depended on him. I didn't have anything here in this apartment. He bought me everything you see here. He bought me this lamp for Mother's Day. He bought me that on Christmas, the entertainment center."
Army Sgt. Edward John Anguiano, a heavy wheel mechanic for the 3rd Infantry Division Support Battalion, is one of three American soldiers still missing in Iraq , according to the Defense Department.
He's the only soldier still unaccounted for in the attack on a maintenance convoy near Nasiriyah on March 23, in which eight were killed and six taken prisoner and later freed, including Spc. Jessica Lynch of West Virginia and Spc. Edgar Hernandez, another Rio Grande Valley soldier.
"I wish I could talk to a mother who is in the same shoes as I am who has her son missing in action. It's very hard," said Anguiano, who speaks haltingly.
Her eyes are tired and swollen.
"It's very confusing because of what I am hearing and that brings me down, but I don't let it," she added. "That's why I am trying not to watch too much television, especially the (stations) from Mexico , because they show a lot."
Anguiano, 6-foot-plus with blue eyes and light-colored hair, never met his father, but sought guidance from his mother's five brothers and father, who all served in the military.
He didn't excel in academics, his mother said, but his teachers always told her he had a talent for working with his hands.
As a kid, he could disassemble bicycles and put them back together. He could fix things before they broke and on a visit home, the soldier once warned his mother an engine belt in her 1990 Lincoln Town Car soon would give out.
"He showed me, my son showed me how to put it on before he left. 'In case the thing tears down, Mom, here is the part and I am going to show you how to do it.' He bought me some tools too. He said, 'You are going to need them because you are always getting stranded with the car,'" Anguiano recalled.
"When he called me I told him, 'You know what, Edward, you were right. The thing, the belt came off."
After graduating from Brownsville 's Hanna High School , he moved to Arkansas , where he worked at a poultry-packing plant and bought an old car. At 19, he never had taken a road trip alone, but he made it back safe, which gives Juanita Anguiano "faith my son is alive."
"He had two blown out tires. He got lost in Houston by himself. He came all by himself in the car with no directions, just following the signs," Anguiano says.
After two years of college, he decided to leave the Valley to travel and earn some money to continue his education. In August 2000, Anguiano enlisted in the Army. He served in Kosovo.
On that Sunday in Iraq when the Army's 507th Maintenance Company, a Fort Bliss unit, stopped to repair vehicles and fell behind, he was in the convoy with Sgt. George Edward Buggs, 31, of South Carolina , the only other soldier from Fort Stewart Ga.
Buggs' body, and that of Spc. James Kiehl of Comfort, were among eight found in a shallow grave by the same task force that rescued Lynch on April 1.
Last Sunday, seven POWs were freed south of Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. They included Hernandez and four others who were captured in the attack on Anguiano's convoy.
But Anguiano hasn't been found. His mother was notified nearly a week after he went missing.
There have been many days, she says, when bad news wrecked her hope and sent it plunging. Sleep these days only comes with a pill. Votive candles burn day and night.
"I was happy because he wasn't among with the ones that were killed," Anguiano said. "Then it made me sad that he wasn't among the POWs and now I am back in the boat. But I don't give up hope because I know my son is alive. He is somewhere out there."
She said she has moments when she can picture her son in some Iraqi village, like the ones she has seen on TV, surrounded by a herd of animals and the Iraqis he has befriended.
"When we went to Mexico ... he was around the fishermen and he blended with those people. They liked him and he went fishing with these people. He has a real tender heart. He makes friends right away," said Anguiano, recalling a family trip to Ciudad Victoria many years ago.
She fears she will learn of his death on TV, but a daughter, Rebecca, a high school sophomore, has reassured her that if anything happens, the Army will tell her first.
Rebecca refuses to believe anything except that her brother is alive. God would not take him, she said, after allowing him to accomplish the kinds of things many of his friends here couldn't, like graduate from high school, move out on his own and join the military.
She often thinks of a night years ago when she was only 5. Rebecca and her brother rode in the back seat of a car with the windows rolled down.
"That's the memory I think about every day," she said. "He fell asleep and he was hugging me. And at that time, I felt nothing could ever harm me."