Remember Anderson Cooper and the "360" gangs little trip to Afghanistan in September? Well apparently a serviceman who was stationed there has written about the events that unfolded on September 11 while at the base. From the Pocono Record, here is an excerpt about Cooper and CNN. Click the link to read the article in its entirety.
Later that same day, I received some interesting news that had me guessing whether it would turn out to be an unwelcome burden, or a much-needed diversion from the present grief. I discovered that somehow CNN had discovered the existence of our little outpost.
For whatever reason, the producers of Anderson Cooper's show had decided that our base would make an ideal site to from which to air a few stories on Afghanistan as the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11 neared. There was a combined feeling of curious excitement, and annoyance. It was amusing to me to see how some guys would openly criticize the press, and yet seemed genuinely interested in the prospect of appearing on CNN.
I had a sort behind the scenes look at what goes into television productions. A couple of military public affairs officers had showed up before the CNN crew showed up to help us prepare for the upcoming dog and pony show.
Through several meetings, the leadership at the base sorted out some key issues regarding the CNN broadcasts. We had to figure out things like where we would house the crew, how we ensure their safety in the event of an attack, and which soldiers were the most photogenic.
The public affairs officers needed to ensure that we would be sufficiently active to make some good stories, and asked about the details of our scheduled Sept. 11 memorial service. We had a Sept. 11 memorial service planned? Good thing the public affairs officers were there.
The CNN crew arrived, and all personnel on the base went into full Hollywood mode. Soldiers that I hadn't seen wearing a clean uniform in months donned their Sunday best. The dining facility, serving the same menu over and over again, was suddenly cooking like Emeril was in the back kicking it up a notch. For me, at least, CNN's presence was entertaining.
I got to live the outtakes of life. I was rousted from bed one morning so that we could shoot the howitzers. I headed to the fire direction center and was informed that we were waiting to de-conflict overhead airspace with some helicopters in the area.
As I stood there, I kept getting calls from the gun-line asking about the nature of the delay, and how much longer it would take. I didn't know at the time that we were shooting in part for CNN, that the broadcast was already live, and that
Anderson Cooper was desperately trying to cover the time with something interesting to say. Finally running out of verbiage, he was forced to cut to commercial. Eventually, we managed to get coordinated and CNN got the broadcast they were looking for.
The folks from CNN had been making a big deal about our Sept. 11 memorial.
As the entire base formed up for the service, we half-heartedly predicted that the bad-guys would take this opportunity to nail us all at once.
Sure enough, as predicted, just when the cameras went live, we heard the whistle and boom of a rocket striking near the base.
Anderson Cooper's broadcast consisted of an enormous gaggle of soldiers running for cover.
A second attempt at the broadcast later that night would be successful.
Finally, after a few days of excitement, CNN left, and life on the base returned to normal.
I soon returned to my routine, and was left to face the remainder of the deployment. How would I pass the next five months?