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This blog chronicles the experiences of Elon journalism major Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown, who was deployed to the Middle East in June 2006 as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves 210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. Hemmerly-Brown is from Blue Hill, Maine, and is the daughter of Jane and Daniel Hemmerly-Brown. As a public affairs specialist, Hemmerly-Brown writes stories, takes photographs, produces a newspaper and works with members of the news media. She is scheduled to be stationed in Iraq for about a year, and plans to return to her studies at Elon following her tour of duty.Messages can be sent to Alexandra at: IsisIndy@hotmail.com. Her mailing address is: Spc. Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown, 210th MPAD, Camp Anaconda, Balad, APO AE 09391.

[Return to Hemmerly-Brown's blog home page]

August 30, 2006

The Contender

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog, but unfortunately it is not from me being too busy to write. In fact, it is the exact opposite - I don’t really have any interesting news. I’m really getting used to the daily grind here, and I’m starting to work faster producing news products in spite of continuous assignments piling up on my desk. That must mean that, *gasp,* I’m getting better at this. Just don’t tell my boss- he might give me more work ;)

(SPECIAL NOTE: Alexandra has provided readers of this blog with a pdf file of a recent feature story she produced for her unit's newspaper, The Anaconda Times. Her story and photos focus on Army doctors who are volunteering their time to serve Iraqi civilians.>>CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE STORY)

Well, since I haven’t traveled anywhere or done anything super-exciting lately, I’ll just tell you the news around the base (apparently what I do best anyway). On Aug. 18 we had our very own Relay for Life here in Iraq. Some of you might of heard of the walk-a-thon event, as it's generally wide-spread within the U.S. The focus of the event is to raise money for cancer research by getting sponsors to sponsor a walker or team of walkers who walk for a 12-hour period. For us, that time period was 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. to avoid the extreme heat.

It was the first such event in Iraq, and there was a lot of planning and work that went into it. Many soldiers (as well as civilians), have family or friends that they’ve either lost to cancer or have battled with it. In fact, there are four known Army cancer survivors stationed at this base who participated at the event. I got to interview three of them and they all have remarkable stories. Can you imagine? Living through cancer, only to be sent to Iraq? It must be tough.

There was a lot of civilian interest in this event, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some of you saw footage on TV that my video guys shot. I know there were certain morning news shows interested in it, and we sent live satellite feeds back to the U.S. throughout the night, but I’m not sure which stations picked it up. Anyway- good story, and the best part is that we raised over $24,000 for cancer research, and the guy that individually completed the most laps (it was on a track)/ the most distance for the event, walked/ran a total of over 26 miles! That is Boston marathon material, isn’t it? Crazy guy ;)

Other than that, we had a minor (major in sports), celebrity come to Anaconda who I also got to interview. Some of you may have seen “The Contender,” on TV. The guy who came was Joey Gilbert, a contestant in that series last year. He didn’t win the TV show because of an injury, but he has gone on to win the North American Boxing Org.’s middleweight title. In other words, he is the #1 middleweight in the U.S. I think that’s pretty cool, and for any boxing fans out there, he’s pretty much a big deal.

He is on his second tour of the Middle East to visit the troops, and this trip was taken to fulfill a promise. The first time he visited, he promised troops that he was going to win the middleweight belt, and when he did, he would bring it back to Iraq … well, he did, and he’s back. Gilbert is not your average boxer – he has his law degree amongst other undergraduate degrees, and practiced law before getting serious about boxing. Pretty crazy. So, for my first sports celebrity experience it was decidedly enjoyable, and he was very nice. Being around a muscle-y handsome boxer didn’t hurt much either ;)

Well, that’s about it for now. I’m already scheduled to take two trips to other locations in September, so maybe I’ll have something a little more interesting to share. Thanks for giving me an audience. School is starting back up for you guys and although I’m a little sad I can’t be there too, I hope this year is awesome ;) Good luck.

 

READ MORE OF ALEXANDRA'S STORIES FROM THE ANACONDA TIMES:

>>Story 1

>>Story 2

>>Story 3

>>Story 4