One year after a bomb blast nearly killed CBS News’ Kimberly Dozier in Baghdad, the veteran foreign correspondent is asking the Eye to send her back to the Middle East.
Dozier is set to return to television next week after a year spent in and out of surgery — 25 operations in all — and in rehabilitation from wounds suffered from an improvised explosive device that took the lives of Dozier’s soundman and cameraman, an Army captain and his Iraqi translator on Memorial Day 2006.
CBS will air a primetime docu about Dozier’s experience, “Flashpoint,” on Tuesday. The film, screened for journos Tuesday morning at Le Bernardin, near the Eye’s Black Rock headquarters, includes footage captured by a CNN crew of her near-lifeless body arriving at a military hospital.
“I’m looking forward to going back to the Middle East to do this work,” Dozier told reporters. She is not asking for a posting to Baghdad specifically, but she does want to work in regions torn by terrorism and age-old ethnic conflicts. It’s important for Americans to understand the issues behind the daily headlines out of the area, she asserted. “I believe there is a wider need for reporting” on the Middle East, Dozier said.
CBS News prexy Sean McManus said decisions on war coverage are among his toughest calls, balancing the need to provide on-the-spot coverage of a hugely significant ongoing story with the need to protect the safety of his personnel. He said he’s wrestling with Dozier’s request.
“It’s probably one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, decisions I’ve had to make,” said McManus.
On assignment last year, Dozier was in Baghdad for what she believed would be a relatively safe story for “The Early Show” about soldiers spending Memorial Day in the war zone.
But a taxi loaded with explosives was detonated by remote, killing the commander of the unit with which she was embedded, Captain James Alex Funkhouser, his Iraqi translator and CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas and soundman James Brolan. Dozier suffered massive injuries, including shattered legs and shrapnel that penetrated her skull. Shrapnel nicked her femoral artery and her heart stopped twice.
“I couldn’t see anything, I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t feel anything,” Dozier said. “I thought this was going to be a safe mission.”
The doc follows her long road to recovery along with that of other troops critically injured in the blast. Dozier visits the doctors and nurses who treated her, along with a soldier from the Iowa National Guard who tied a tourniquet around her leg that probably saved her life. “I have to prove to my company that I can run,” Dozier says at one point during her rehab.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says 104 journalists (including 82 Iraqis) have been killed in Iraq since the war began in 2003. ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff was critically injured in an bomb attack in Iraq in early 2006. Woodruff has been spending the past year reporting on soldiers who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries similar to his.