Mideast Notebook: Plenty of flicks for Bataan crew
SOMEWHERE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN — Sailors don’t have to bring their portable DVD player aboard the USS Bataan.
That’s because the ship has plenty of movies playing 24 hours a day.
The ship has a library of nearly 1,000 movie titles. Many of them are fairly new releases.
The Public Affairs Department plays 84 movies a week. Sailors and Marines can request a movie, and the public affairs staff will play it if they have it.
Each day, a dozen movies are played on the ship’s closed-circuit TV. The schedule is replayed throughout the day.
On the amphibious assault ship’s current deployment to the Persian Gulf, the most requested movie has been “Radio” starring Cuba Gooding Jr., said Seaman Brian Anderson, who plays the movies daily.
And if sailors and Marines don’t like a movie, Anderson often hears about it.
When he played “Brotherhood of the Wolf,” he got as many as 10 calls from angry viewers. The movie is in French and has subtitles.
“I’m not going to stop a movie, but I’ll take into [consideration] their concern and not play it again,” he said.
Anderson probably got the most complaints when he played the first part of “The Godfather.” When it came time to play the second part, he discovered he didn’t have it. The ship never received it. Although most of the viewers probably know how the 1972 classic ends, many wanted to see it.
As bad as its bark
BAGHDAD — Taking in a stray has provided more than a friend for one set of soldiers in Iraq. When a team of soldiers found a dog whose head had been split open — by what appeared to be a rifle butt — the group took him in and nursed it back to health.
After tending to the dog’s wounds with antibiotic cream, the soldiers of the the Headquarters Headquarters Company 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division Maintenance from Friedberg, Germany, discovered a new loyal friend. The dog, “Big Daddy,” joins the soldiers at the checkpoint and has become a welcome companion — therapeutic and comforting in the day-to-day existence in Iraq, some soldiers said.
As a result of the new coexistence, soldiers on guard have an early warning of possible danger and, as one soldier put it, the dog hates Iraqis and will attack them or chase them off when they get too close.
In another camp, another group of 1st AD troops have adopted a golden-haired puppy named Sapper, given it some shots and plan to transfer the dog to the next incoming unit.
Sailors aboard the USS Bataan were shocked to learn that Virginian-Pilot newspaper reporter Dennis O’Brien had died. The reporter road aboard the Bataan prior to the war in Iraq and was embedded with the Marines throughout the war.
The newspaper industry journal, Editor & Publisher, reported that O’Brien, 35, killed himself and was found in a Norfolk, Va., park. The magazine cited sources from within the Norfolk newspaper.
The Bataan expressed its condolences to the family and sent flowers.
O’Brien spent 5½ months covering the war. His business card — with his e-mail address scrawled on the top — is still taped to a computer monitor in the public affairs office.
— Stars and Stripes reporter Scott Schonauer, aboard the USS Bataan, and Stripes photographer Jim Schulz, in Baghdad, contributed to this report.