Newspaper Reporter

Ron Martz; Photo: T. Levette Bagwell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution


APRIL 1, 2003 · As reporters from around the world travel, eat, sleep and move with troops in Iraq, at least one of them has had his editorial standards challenged by an experience with the harsh reality of war. Ron Martz is a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He and a photographer are embedded with Charlie Company, a tank unit of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division. Last week, Charlie Company was ordered to hold a key intersection near Najaf. It was an intense and chaotic combat situation. Martz left his armored personnel carrier to take in the scene. In his War Diary entry, Martz recalls the moment he came upon a U.S. solider holding a medical drip bag for a wounded Iraqi civilian. It was then Martz had to make a difficult decision.

[The soldier] kind of looked at me as if to say, "I really have to go somewhere, I have something to do," and I said to him, "Can I hold that for you?" And he said, "Yeah... I've got to get back to my tank." He said, "Just keep this guy alive, keep him talking, keep his eyes open and don't let him go to sleep. If he starts to go into shock, tell a doctor."

So for the next 10 or 15 minutes I knelt by the stretcher there and the guy kept saying he hurt, he hurt. I kept telling him, "You'll be OK, you'll be OK." And at that point, all thoughts of "Should I not get involved?" or "Should I just be a reporter and observe this?" kind of went out the window because I felt like it was my duty at that point to help this guy out however I could.

"I felt like it was my duty at that point to help this guy out however I could."

I asked him about his family several times. He said he had three babies and he spoke a little broken English. He kept saying, "My three babies, my three babies." I don't know if I helped keep that guy alive, but I helped free a soldier to do what he's supposed to do and I helped that particular civilian... make it through that particular traumatic time.

But I don't mind crossing that line. My conscience is clear about that. I would rather have done what I did than not do anything and sit there and observe and say, "Sorry, I can't get involved because I'm a journalist" and have to live with that for the rest of my life.

Ron Martz's 'drip bag' report for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ron Martz's Iraq war coverage