Best Defense

Great reporting: The best ‘lede’ I’ve read lately in an article about soldiers

I am glad we have reporters as good as Greg Jaffe who can tell the 99 percent of Americans who have no idea what it is like to be in the 1 percent that is fighting our wars: Emily Franks was playing with her toddler when a soldier called from Afghanistan with devastating news. A ...

TalAtlas/flickr
TalAtlas/flickr

I am glad we have reporters as good as Greg Jaffe who can tell the 99 percent of Americans who have no idea what it is like to be in the 1 percent that is fighting our wars:

Emily Franks was playing with her toddler when a soldier called from Afghanistan with devastating news.

A massive roadside bombing had killed five soldiers from her husband’s 120-man infantry company. The soldier was calling Franks, who was at the center of a wives’ support network, in violation of a military-imposed communications blackout on the unit.

Using an Afghan cellphone, he told Franks that her husband was safe, but that the company commander was probably dead.

Franks’s cellphone beeped. Kitty Hinds, the company commander’s wife, was calling.

"I gotta go," Franks told the soldier.

She was sure that Hinds was going to tell her that her husband had been killed. Hinds, however, was oblivious to the events 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan. It was a perfect afternoon and she was driving her three boys home from baseball camp.

Franks struggled to mask the dread in her voice. Her pulse raced as she said goodbye. "It was horrid," she recalled. "Absolutely horrid."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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