Journalist Al Webb, a veteran reporter for United Press International who covered everything from the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement to the Jonestown massacre in 1978, died Jan. 25, at age 79, from complications of pneumonia and diabetes.
Webb, a reporter, photographer, and occasional broadcaster, was the predecessor to what is now regarded as a multimedia journalist, reporting from all over the globe through a host of different mediums. He was known for his quick wit, candid writing, and blazingly fast reportage and received a Bronze Star with Combat “V” Device for his actions during the battle of Hue City, Vietnam.
One of the greatest pieces of war reporting I ever came across, UPI’s Al Webb in Hue, Vietnam during Tet ‘68: pic.twitter.com/ilI0B7zzfA
While embedded with Marines during the Tet Offensive, Webb rushed to the aid of a critically injured Marine and helped drag him to safety, sustaining injuries of his own.
Webb later wrote on the event: "It is noise you remember — the sharp 'thwack' of a sniper's bullets inches from your head, the eerie keening of a Marine dying of the wound that had blown away a third of his skull, the evil whoosh of a rocket seeking more death."
According to Webb, he loved being a reporter more than anything, whether in spite of, or because of, the risks, horrible hours, and cut-throat nature of the field.
"UPI was my first, last and only love in journalism,” Webb told his colleagues at The Washington Times, according to his UPI obituary. “The thrill of that competition, the absolute enjoyment of getting a story, of being accurate. It was the most fun I had in my entire life. Our mission was to get the facts down in an interesting order and let the reader make the conclusions. There was real integrity in that."
Beyond his grit and skill, what sets journalists like Webb apart from so many others, is his acknowledgement of a simple truth: Covering a war means you are in a war. Just because one enters a combat zone as a noncombatant, doesn't mean he or she is excused from risk or responsibility.
Webb operated abroad, far from the bureaus to which he reported and at a time when inaccuracy was the ultimate failure of a reporter, which doesn't always feel like the case these days.
Journalists on the ground are the first and most vital buffer against misinformation, and those wishing to follow in Webb's footsteps should seek out the truth no matter where it is, and no matter the hardship.
(From left to right) Chris Osman, Chris McKinley, Kent Kroeker, and Talon Burton
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
A photo shared by Hoda Muthana on her now-closed @ZumarulJannaTwitter account. (Twitter/ZumarulJannah)
The State Department announced Wednesday that notorious ISIS bride Hoda Muthana, a U.S.-born woman who left Alabama to join ISIS but began begging to return to the U.S. after recently deserting the terror group, is not a U.S. citizen and will not be allowed to return home.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."