Today, I'm launching The War Project, an independent, online project I've created that presents the stories of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The first as-told-to story on the site is that of Staff Sgt. Fred Minnick, who served in the Wisconsin National Guard as an Army photojournalist and is the author of Camera Boy: An Army Journalist's War in Iraq.
Earlier this month, I visited Minnick in Louisville, Kentucky, where he was kind enough to invite me into his home for a two-and-a-half-hour long interview. His as-told-to story on The War Project site is a condensed and edited version of that in-person interview. After we spoke, I took the photograph you see here in the area where he lives.
I grew up in Oklahoma, moved to Wisconsin after college, and then deployed with the Wisconsin unit. I was 46-Quebec, which is an Army photojournalist.Five years ago, I interviewed J. R. Martinez while writing a story for The Virginian-Pilot. Deployed to Iraq in 2003, Martinez was trapped in the Humvee that he was driving after it drove over a landmine and suffered burns over more than 40 percent of his body. His story provided the seeds for this project.
On Valentine’s Day 2003, I received a phone call that we had been alerted for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Basically, what that meant was, we were going to be deployed in some capacity for the war.
For me, personally, I was young, I was like, “OK, let’s do it.” I mean, sure, there was fear. I mean, who didn’t have fear, right?
The War Project strives to be unbiased and, for lack of a better word, apolitical. It is neither "pro-war" nor "anti-war." Instead, it focuses on the stories of those who have experienced war firsthand. The project is self-funded and not affiliated with any media organization, political group, or otherwise.
I've spent the last 13 years working as a freelance journalist. My journalism has appeared in Newsweek, Details, Harper's Bazaar, Salon, Slate, The San Francisco Chronicle, The LA Weekly, The Vancouver Sun, The San Francisco Examiner Magazine, Variety, The Daily Beast, Playboy.com, Wired News, and I've appeared on CNN, "Politically Incorrect," Fox News, and NPR.
Over the coming year, I'll be publishing the as-told-to stories of more veterans on The War Project site. If you're an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran interested in finding out more about this project, send me an email. The War Project site was designed, illustrated, and built by Washington, DC-based artist, illustrator, and Eagle Scout Chris Bishop.
[The War Project]
This post is cross-posted on True/Slant.