EUGENE, Ore. -- Camp Marjah, Afghanistan: it’s nearly 7,000 miles from Eugene - and where two embedded journalists now call home as they bring the war in Afghanistan to your screen.
University of Oregon graduate Cali Bagby and journalism instructor Dan Morrison are embedded with the Marines 2 /6 Infantry Battalion in the Helmand Province. Their mission: report about life on the front lines.
Their journey began in Eugene. Bagby and Morrison bought gear - and lots of it - for their stay in Afghanistan.
Besides tripods, cameras, and other reporting essentials, the pair bought bulletproof vests, helmets and plenty of tan T-shirts.
They left Aug. 2, first for Kuwait, then for Afghanistan, moving south with the Marines from Camp Leatherneck to the remote forward operating base at Camp Marjah.
Here’s how Bagby describes the what she learned about the camp when she arrived:
“Go even farther into the haze of a sandy fog and you'll find a forward operating base called Marjah, located in south central Afghanistan. Before departing you may hear this phrase, 'Marjah? No way I’d want to go down there.' This base has a reputation for taking heavy fire. It also has a reputation for being rustic.”
Rustic indeed: Bagby and Morrison sleep in tents and use makeshift restrooms. They eat two meals a day. The food comes in plastic bags that are delivered by aircraft to the base.
It’s not easy living, but Bagby is used to it. She spent 10 months embedded with the Oregon National Guard in Iraq reporting for KVAL.com.
For Morrison, this Afghan war zone is new. He had spent a week in San Salvador during the El Salvador Civil war in 1982. But Morrison said things have changed a lot since then and that not anyone can embed with the Marines.
“No sleazebag-sometimes-wannabe freelancers welcome,” he said. “You've got to be the real deal.”
Bagby and Morrison are 14 days into their stay with the Marines. They’ve reported for KVAL News about life on the base, conflicts with local Afghans and improvements to Afghan roads.
The pair will be in Afghanistan for at least two more weeks. You can catch all of their reports at KVAL.com and watch for special reports on KVAL 13 TV News.