Journalists reflect on Iraq experience
Saturday, January 22, 2005
It was a welcome home and a reversal of roles for Times-Dispatch staff writer Jeremy Redmon and photographer Dean Hoffmeyer yesterday.
After being embedded for five weeks in Mosul, Iraq, with the Richmond-based 276th Engineer Battalion, the pair answered questions from television and print reporters and spoke to colleagues at a news conference at the Richmond newspaper's downtown office.
Redmon and Hoffmeyer were the only journalists in a mess tent on Dec. 21 when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing 22 people, including two from the 276th, a Virginia National Guard unit.
Redmon and Hoffmeyer were not injured.
"I keep thinking about the little things we did that changed where we were" at certain times during that day, said Redmon, 33, who was grabbing a plate of pasta when a fireball erupted and shot through the roof of the tent.
Audio interview with staff writer Jeremy Redmon and photographer Dean Hoffmeyer upon their return from Iraq.
Hoffmeyer, 40, was in the chow line when the explosion knocked him to the floor and blew the food tray from his hands. Seconds later, Hoffmeyer would be shooting pictures that in the following hours and days would be flashed across TV and published in newsprint outlets around the world.
He said he didn't have time to think about the enormity of the bombing, the deadliest attack on U.S. soldiers since the March 2003 invasion.
"I'm just dumb enough not to think that way," he joked. "I've been a lot more nervous covering the end of college basketball games."
Redmon filed stories on the bombing about four hours afterward. His accounts were published in newspapers worldwide.
"You got recognized for your work, which is what you like, but it came at such a terrible tragedy," he said. "That was very troubling to deal with."
Redmon and Hoffmeyer said they hope to return to a normal lifestyle. Redmon, who has been at The Times-Dispatch for five years, typically covers Richmond government. Hoffmeyer, a nine-year veteran at the paper, takes whatever photo assignment comes his way.
"I desire to be the same person I was before I left," Hoffmeyer said, with Redmon adding that he's more patient with people, yet "there are things that will stay with me for the rest of my life."
The two also got to know each other outside of the newsroom, living together in a small trailer for five weeks.
"Yeah, we're best buddies now," Hoffmeyer laughed.
Redmon smiled in agreement.
"I learned to fall asleep with Dean's snoring."
Staff writer Jeremy Redmon and photographer Dean Hoffmeyer accompanyied the Richmond-based 276th Engineer Battalion in the northern Iraq city of Mosul.
Follow the stories and photos from their trip
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