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Dozier Revisits ‘Flashpoint’

May 28, 2007  •  Post A Comment

One year to the day after a car bomb in Iraq killed CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan and nearly killed correspondent Kimberly Dozier, she is back with a vivid special that gets behind the grimly matter-of-fact statistics of the war in Iraq.
“Flashpoint,” which airs at 10 p.m. Tuesday, is hosted by “CBS Evening News” anchor Katie Couric, who also interviews Ms. Dozier. Executive produced by “48 Hours”‘ Susan Zirinsky, the hour is hard to watch-and even harder to forget.
Like “Iraq and Back,” the February documentary about ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff’s miraculous recovery from a roadside bomb blast, “Flashpoint” uses the correspondent’s experience as the jumping-off point to tell a larger story that introduces viewers to less well-known names and faces and their lives, losses and post-traumatic stress.
In addition to visiting with the families of Mr. Douglas and Mr. Brolan, Ms. Dozier talks with survivors of the Fourth Infantry Division, with which her crew had gone out on patrol in search of a feature on how the military was celebrating Memorial Day. She visits with the widow of the division captain whose first tour in Iraq ended that day. He was the 2,467th American casualty of the war. His translator also was killed that day.
Even after having covered Iraq since 2003, Ms. Dozier says in the special that she thought she fully understood the devastating ripple effects of IEDs (improvised explosive devices), which cause approximately half of American combat casualties in Iraq.
“I didn’t really understand it until I lived through it,” she says.
But she nearly didn’t live through it.
Her heart stopped twice at the Baghdad military hospital, where her injuries and blood loss were so extensive that she was not immediately recognizable to CNN bureau chief Cal Perry, who was compiling video for a long-form report on the heroic but sometimes heartbreaking medicine being practiced there.
Mr. Perry’s video is worth several thousand words about Ms. Dozier’s head, leg and other injuries that have necessitated more than 25 surgeries and months of physical therapy.
She still wears elastic hose (or a well-worn pair of boots) to combat the swelling in her legs, which were rebuilt with titanium rods.
She has had to cope with survivor’s guilt, along with everything else.
Like Mr. Woodruff, Ms. Dozier’s reporting required her to turn over emotional rocks and ask questions of everyone who helped her on the road back, but that process, she says, actually comforts her that there are no mysteries waiting to “ambush” her.
Reporting What She Knows
In the near term, Ms. Dozier is producing stories for “CBS Evening News” about topics that spring from what she learned during her recovery-including more about extremity injuries, which are widespread, and the expertise of caregivers and the stress their jobs entail.
In the long term, there are serious questions about whether CBS News will let Ms. Dozier be reassigned to the Middle East, where she very much wants to be stationed. She concedes she’s not yet ready to go back to Iraq.
“To get back to my job, to working in the Middle East, I have to prove to my company that I can run and I can run from trouble,” Ms. Dozier says during a workout in the special. “So that’s what I have to work on. I’m going to have to be in better shape than I was before to get back to work.”
After a screening of the emotionally taxing documentary, CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said he’s confronting one of the most difficult decisions he could have to make.
“Kimberly and I are continuing to talk about exactly what’s going to happen in the future and what the timetable is, but it will be a very, very difficult decision to make and one that will have a great deal of repercussions,” Mr. McManus said. “It’s a decision that, in the end, with respect to what Kimberly wants to do with the rest of her reporting career, she will have to make herself and I’ll have to make a decision based on [what is right for] CBS News.”
“I have to present a good argument to Sean,” Ms. Dozier said.

One Comment

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