Archive for on assignment

On Assignment: Suicide in the National Guard for the New York Times

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 4, 2009 by jeremymlange

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HQ of the 1451st Transportation Company, Boone, NC.

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Lawrence Parker is the father of 1st Sergeant Roger Parker, who took his own life after returning from Iraq and losing 2 of the men in his unit.

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Jennifer Wilson is the younger sister of Sgt. Jeff Wilson, who committed suicide after the deaths of 2 men in his unit in Iraq.

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A memorial for the fallen soldiers from the 1451st Transportation Company, Boone, NC.

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Elaine Hafner is the mother of Sgt. Jeff Wilson, who committed suicide after returning from Iraq and losing 2 friends just weeks before the end of their tour.

A few months ago, I worked on a story for the New York Times about a North Carolina National Guard unit, the 1451st Transportation Company, out of Boone, that had 4 of their soldiers commit suicide after returning from a tour in Iraq where they lost 2 men less than 2 weeks before returning home. The story focuses primarily on Sgt. Jacob Blaylock, but I met with the father, mother and sister of 2 of the fallen soldiers, 1st Sgt. Roger Parker and Sgt. Jeff Wilson, all of whom reside in western North Carolina. It was one of the hardest stories I have worked on from an emotional stand point. Even a year or more after the deaths of their children, the parents and siblings still have a pronounced sense of loss and some anger as to why their sons and brother were not better looked after by the Army. Not enough counseling or mental care and contact after they returned from war after losing 2 friends just weeks before heading home.

I just want to thank the Hafners, Parkers and Wilsons for inviting me to their homes to share their stories about their sons and brothers with me. Without strong families like them, these men would have been all the more lost and I hope this story will help the military get a handle on what they need to do to keep this from happening again.

Read it all here, see the slideshow here, more photos here.

See more photos related to the effects of the wars in the Middle East on the US here.

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On Assignment: Cuban Immigrants in North Carolina

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by jeremymlange

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Tony Asion, the executive director of El Pueblo and a Cuban immigrant who has helped many others settle in North Carolina.

A story I worked with my friend, writer Matt Saldana, on Cuban immigrants and refugges in North Carolina came out on Wedenesday. It was an interesting experience to listen to the stories of those who have ended up here over the last 50 years in all the various waves of Cuban immigration to the US. We spoke to Bay of Pigs veterans, Mariel Boat Lifters and all those in between. We found no no gray areas in the opinions of Castro and his regime, they all hate him and want him out of power, but fight to figure a way to allow relatives to get money from the US without undermining the “blockade” which is kind of a jole anyway. North Carolina alone sends millions of chickens to Cuba every year. Makes you wonder who is really benefiting from the ongoing double standard on Cuba… and lets not even get into¬† “dry foot,wet foot“.

On Assignment: Rocky Mount for the New York Times

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by jeremymlange

Photographed a story in Rocky Mount, NC for the New York Times. Due to the downturn in the economy, esp. in Rocky Mount where unemployment has doubled to 14% in the last year, pharmacists at Almand’s Drug Store have been put in the position of helping clients tp pick which of their prescriptions are the most important because they are unable to afford all of them. Most of the folks are on Medicaid or Medicare but the co-pays for some of the drugs are still too high. Story is here, more photos here.

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Traci W. Suber, right, a pharmacist, said customers sometimes wanted her to tell them which of their drugs was most important.

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Clients wait for their prescriptions to be filled.

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The majority of the stores in downtown Rocky Mount have shut down.

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In store advertising offers deals on certain drugs.

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Arlene Birth is a client of the pharmacy.

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Gloria, a store clerk, advises waiting customers.

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Many vacant homes dot the Rocky Mount landscape.

On Assignment: Animazement

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 29, 2009 by jeremymlange

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Got to check out my first Animazement convention last week. Stunning, to say the least. Thousands of folks converged on the Raleigh Convention Center for 3 days of fun and anime. Did the white backdrop hustle, and by the way, setting up a 9ft. seamless in a tiny hallway by yourself is no fun, but the photos were what I had hoped for and it was a lot of fun to talk to the attendess and learn about their costumes and how far they had traveled to be there. A slideshow of 25 of the pics is here. Not my usual approach to a story, but it was also good to keep me on my toes and figure out the logistics of getting it all done outside my usual comfort zone.