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Mideast edition, Saturday, August 18, 2007

WASHINGTON — Stars and Stripes reporter Monte Morin earned top honors Thursday from Military Reporters and Editors, the second year in a row the war correspondent was recognized by the association for professional journalists.

The latest first-place award for print journalism came for his January 2006 story “Back on his feet,” about Marines in Ramadi, Iraq, dealing with the aftermath of a roadside bomb attack.

Judges said Morin’s piece was “a hell of a good yarn that made a larger point about individual courage, determination and war itself — as applied to the Marine and, in this case, the reporter himself.”

Morin said he was flattered, but cited the subject of his story — then-Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt — as a reason the piece stood out.

“[Burghardt] is just one of those guys who makes for a naturally compelling story,” he said. “He’s courageous, dedicated, really sharp and has a very colorful way of talking. The thing that impressed me most about him is how much he seemed to relish the challenge of this unbelievably dangerous duty.”

Morin, 40, won the same award last year for another series from Iraq. He has been a reporter with Stripes since 2005, covering U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.

Stripes’ Mideast Bureau Editor Joseph Giordono called Morin an important voice for readers for the past two years.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award, but that’s not his motivation,” he said. “Monte shares the best attributes of the troops we cover — bravery, commitment and professionalism.”

The reporters and editors association also recognized Greg Jaffe of The Wall Street Journal for his series on military advisory programs in Iraq, and ESPN for its report on the death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

The association seeks to advance public understanding of the military and to ensure that journalists have access to places where the U.S. military and its allies operate.

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