Media - Love Em or Leave Em?

So more than ever, the media has become a very large part of my life. I am constantly on the lookout for articles about my Jonny (google him, there are quite a few, some good, some not-so-good...), about other widows, or about things that will just apply to me in general. I talked to several reporters from all kinds of forms of media - television, newspaper, and radio - when I began this journey. People have asked why or how I could do it and all I can say is that I believe America needs to know. America outside of the military community doesn't seem to grasp how serious this war is and the heroes we are losing. The big news stations often present the KIAs as just another number, a name scrolling across the bottom, but what they fail to remember is that these guys have stories, lives, pasts, and they were supposed to have futures. So that was my reasoning for why I talked to the press, to get Jonny's story out there, so people could see he was a true human being with a life, and Ariana and I, and our families, are real people who are left behind. Whether or not it changes anyone's perspective on the war I do not know, but I'm hoping it touched at least one person and made them realize - "Holy crap this IS a real man who had so much to come home to and he died for me and every other American" From some of the comments I've received, my goal was attained and a few people realized this, or maybe they knew it already but just showed their gratitude, and that is all I really ask.

Anyway, this is not the point of today's post, just the intro. As I mentioned, some stories are not so good. I remember one story shortly after his death basically said he had joined just because he couldn't find a job. We were all taken aback by this because that was not the only reason he joined. My husband was a career Marine, if that was why he joined I don't think he would have set out to be a lifer, the Marine Corps was something he wanted to give himself too for reasons above and beyond himself or a selfish need for stability. But anyway, they had said that and my mom had talked to the reporter after it came out and said his facts were not straight and I remember he was extremely rude with her, said the story's already been printed and basically it's good enough. That was our first experience with not having all the facts straight. That story had talked to limited people in his life and gone from there, hadn't talked to his mother or his wife. Anyway, after that most of the stories on him were pretty accurate and well written. All of the reporters I talked to were respectful and just decent. CNN did a spotlight on him, I believe, but the details around that were a bit fuzzy for me. I believe they talked to his mom and then went from there, which I didn't know anything about until right before it aired. His mom sent me an email that it would be on at 10 (CNN told her they would just email her the day it aired that's why short notice) but unfortunately I never got to see it. I contacted a rep and they said they would send me a copy of the segment, which I still don't have, so to this day I don't know what was said about my husband on CNN. They talked to his mom this time though, so I'm sure the information was right on, I would just like to see how it was done... hopefully soon.

Ok, so still haven't gotten to where I'm going. A lot of you have told me you've come across my husband's mention in People magazine (This is where I'm going...) and I thank you all for making sure I got the heads up. Yesterday, I went out and got 2 copies (one for Ariana's scrapbook) and read it as I was going through the store. When I got to the section on the Fallen, I must say I was pretty disappointed.

First, there were some incorrect facts.
1. Brandon Barrett, whom People listed as 1st Lt was Posthumously promoted to CAPTAIN Brandon Barrett. It is the rank he earned and should be published anytime he is being talked about.
2. They missed one of our guys. There were 10 KIAs with our unit this deployment. The one they missed his Cpl Jacob Turbett. He was assigned to 2 Combat Engine Battalion, however he was attached with 1/6, therefore part of 1/6 during the deployment. I believe the unit counts him as one of our personal loses, he was honored at the 1/6 memorial, his name is listed on our memorial wall in the battalion. He "counts" and I was very disheartened to see him left out. He deserves the honor of a mention as well and I am sure his family was not happy to see that he was left out.
The last issue I had with the article is once again it presents the KIA guys as just names, ages, and states. Just a number - 9 (an incorrect number, but a number nonetheless). It fails to show that these 10 names have 10 stories as well. The rest of the article highlighted different Marines from the battalion (how they selected them I do not know) each with a little blurb. But nothing at all about the KIA or seriously WIA. To me it was almost like they were making the fallen seem less important than the guys who came home. Now, I am very proud of our guys who came home, but are the ones to leave out really the fallen? The fallen who we have to work to make sure they are not forgotten. The guys who came home can tell their own stories, it is the fallen whose stories need to be told for them.

Either way though, I was very glad People covered it at all. I know that's not their typical type of story and they covered them when they left and when they returned, so all in all it was pretty cool, those were just my gripes with the article. I emailed the editor and got an automated response back, so I am hoping it makes it somewhere for the corrections that need to be made. My mom also emailed the editor. If you feel the need to email the editor, the email is simply I really don't know if any of my messages will be read but it's worth a try.

Since I'm on the topic of media, I've got one more hard point I want to discuss.

Combat Media.
I really don't want to go into whether or not they should be there. Everyone's got a different perspective and I'm not going to give you mine on general combat media but I do have a very strong opinion on one type I have seen. A reporter was embedded with a medevac team. There was a series of photos done, including guys being worked on in the helos, guys right after they had been wounded (OR KILLED), body bags being carried, etc etc. I don't have the link anymore, I got rid of it so I wouldn't waste away in front of it wondering if one of them were my babe, but I do believe it was on NY Times.
Here's the issue I have: A very good friend of mine came across 3 photos of her fiance right after he was shot and killed. Photos of his wound rapped and bleeding, of him being carried off the field, and of him being worked on. Is this really what a grieving 20 year old girl needs to find? Is this appropriate for any of the families to see?


Of course after she told me about it I hunted down the series and stared at them, shaking from head to toe (this was weeks ago, I just hadn't been ready to write about it yet) and choking back vomit when I saw someone who's hands looked like my own love's. After hearing details of his death and learning it was at night that he was killed, I realize the person I had myself convinced was him actually was not him, however that person is someone else's family member. That is the last thing we need to see as we work through this grief process.

I know I talk about making this real for Americans, but this isn't the way that I mean. To me, this doesn't make it real, it objectifies our Marines even more. It turns them into that car accident on the side of the road. When you pass that accident, you're not really thinking about their family or life, you're looking to see "OH MAN how bad that wreck was!!" And that's what I see happening with these photos. I just don't approve, I think it's completely disrespectful to those of us who are left behind, to come across photos like that.
But of course, once again, that's just my opinion, do with it what you will.

And because this post was so long I will leave you with a few photos
Ariana and I before the 1/6 Memorial

Jonny's mom Rachel, me, and Ari at his place amongst all the Fallen Angels. Ari is looking right at daddy

Ariana dancing with Jonny's SSgt, AKA Uncle Rog, at the memorial dinner

A few of his guys and Rachel, Ariana, and I with his field cross and sketched photo


  1. I just emailed the editor as your request and "respectfully" asked them to correct the mistakes (using your corrections) and also asking for some information on the fallen. You are correct, protocal states that all fallen with 1/6 should be counted, we had a few fallen from other Battalions (2 I think) and they are in fact counted. The pics are great! I love the one of your daughter looking at her daddy.

  2. Oh wow...I have a bit to catch up on with you.

    I completely agree though about the media being over there. It seems like its really more about promoting certain groups' agendas then it is about showing the world some truth. Why is it that we don't see a too many photos of people being saved? Or schools being built? But I really wish war correspondents would be put out of work.

    A journalist was killed way back and newspapers were reporting it by saying tons about the guy and then "oh yeah...2 soldiers died with him too." Hello! ReallY? Anyways, that inspired this website "They Have Names" Did I tell you about this already? If not its dedicated to telling the true story behind the fallen. You can contact them through their website to get a friend or family member put on the list. Maybe that's something you could look into for Jonny and all TEN of the 1/6 fallen heroes.

  3. I have been reading your blog for a few days now and I just keep crying. This last post was no different. I agree with you, there are so many people who don’t think about the actual heroes and their stories. I think your blog really puts it into perspective for people reading it. They are more than just a name or a number and every single person should be grateful for what they have done for us. I think you and your husband are amazing. Thank you!

  4. These are amazing pictures! thank your for sharing all of this with us.

  5. My husband bought me the people magazine so i would have something to read while i waited for him yesterday. and when i came across the article about the Marines i had to tell him that it was about your husbands unit. then he was reading the article and i pointed out his name under the fallen and told him that was your husband. he then showed me that the picture above was about him too. i was glad they mentioned the fallen at all. most magazines would have just honored those that came home and pretended that no one was not so lucky.

  6. Such wonderful pics! I like the last one with the Marine holding Ariana.

    I also think Ariana looks adorable dancing in her pink camo! ;)

  7. It bothers me that People didn't get the facts right... CPL Turbett died for our Country. He should be included. Not forgotten. AND they should do at least a few sentances on each life lost. It wouldn't hurt the magazine, one bit.

    Love you girl!

  8. I am really glad you posted this..I actually saw the artice in people this weekend and told my husband that they should have told more about the fallen instead of their names and rank. And I also agree on your views of the combat media. I wouldn't want to see them and relieze it was someone I knew or my husband. Everyone does need to understand what's going on but not that way.

  9. love the photo of her looking at her father. precious.

  10. I totally agree with you on this post! I Love the pictures they are so cute.

  11. The photo is incredible. She's knows her daddy! I think it is wonderful and inspiring and THE RIGHT THING to do that you are dedicated to giving the Fallen names, stories, faces and not just another statistic. Keep doing what you do!

  12. Rachel,

    I've been reading your blog for some time now and every post tugs at my heartstrings. I wish I could give you a huge hug. This post is so personal to me because my husband is a corpsman currently serving in Afghanistan. They often have reporters and photographers "documenting" the real cost of war in his stp. Unfortunately, that documentation is at the expense of family members and it's not right. I saw the NY Times article and it broke my heart especially because some of the heroes in it were men that my husband took care of. I hate that his job has to even exist. Thanks for being so honest and raw in your blog.

  13. I have been following your blog for a while now and every time I see something about the 1/6, I think of you. (I live in NC...just closer to Fort Bragg.) When I saw this article in People, I was mad. I was angry for the same reasons you were. We are losing guys every day over there (active duty, civilian and contractors) and they deserve to be recognized.

    They are not just another name or number in this war.

    We won't forget.

  14. love this blog.

    I heard about a mother that knew her son had died when she also saw a video of him and she knew it was his hand! She could tell it was her son. Its very sad that the media does this. I think it helps people realize what is really going on but it sucks for the family members involved.
    nice pics Ariana is so big and cute!

  15. Dear Mrs P

    thanks for another day of being and sharing.

  16. First I love the photos!

    Second, here is the CNN Transcript:

    "But first, we want to lift up Corporal Jonathan Porto. He died in combat in Afghanistan in March. Jonathan's mom told us he loved being a Marine. He even thought boot camp should have been harder. Jonathan also loved his family and he was so excited about being a dad. Jonathan's daughter was born two months before he died and he never got to meet her. But Jonathan's mom says she'll get to know him through all the stories that the family will tell her."

    Here is the link:

    He is also featured here, search last name:

  17. I 100% agree with you, I finally was able to read the post in People magazine today, and I have to say I also was dissappointed in the fallen section. I did like seeing the pictures of the guys who came back and I think it was good, but I would have liked for them to go into more detail about the fallen. A picture, background, the families they left behind and so on. You are right the guys who came back can tell their stories. If they could have somehow incorporated bigger stories about the fallen within the article it would have been better.

    I too will email them asking them to correct the mistakes.

    Amazing pictures! She is one cute little girl!

  18. I'm so sorry for your loss.

    I just wanted to say that your baby is a doll, and it's adorable that she's looking right at the picture of her daddy.

  19. I happened to read the article today and I saw the picture of your beloved and instantly thought you and Ari. Thank you for posting pictures of your Ari. She is adorable and I know her daddy must smiling real big watching over her. :)

  20. The media is definitely a tricky thing. I never really thought about it until I started writing and having to make decisions about how I wanted my words to be used. I don't know exactly how I feel about reporters embedding. As long as they are doing it for the right reasons, I'm ok with it. But when you described the pictures that were shared of wounded and killed men, my stomach did a sick little flip flop because that is definitely NOT the right reason for a reporter to embed. Families do not need to see that, and as much as I'm like you, that I want the general public to have a better awareness of military life, I don't think anyone needs that kind of awareness.

    Keep us posted on any response from People mag. And I loved the pics!

  21. I don't like embedded reporters either. My problem is that many of them are walking around in a WARZONE, digging up dirt and partially true stories all the while our soldiers are protecting their rights to do so. I know the soldiers aren't always responsible if something happened to one of these people, but most would feel responsible or feel a duty to protect them. I don't like that...I want them to protect themselves. Perhaps I'm just biased. When my husband was in Iraq, a reporter did a story on him and made him sound like a total klutz which is is the opposite of when he is working. He takes his job he should. Many of his superiors and soldiers wrote in telling that the writer's story was mostly false and inaccurate. That made me feel better.
    I don't know...I'm just not a big fan of media in general.

  22. I love the pictures. Those are some beautiful girls. Thanks for sharing them with us. I especially love the one with all the guys. It's a shame what the magazine did. I hope they fix it or at least apologize or something...

  23. I am so sorry that on top of everything you now have to deal with this. You don't deserve it. I hope you can find a way to only have good memories.

  24. I will have to check out the article!
    Well written post. You bring this all to my attention becuase I would not know otherwise.
    AND, Ariana-Love the hair bows and LOVE HER!!

  25. Mrs. P, I can tell you that your blog is successfully getting the messages you want across. I was out of the country for the past 4 weeks and met not one but TWO other girls who knew of your blog and read it regularly. If people magazine isn't getting it right, your blog is. Let it serve as the truth. Lots of love and blessings.

  26. Its interesting to read your post tonight. I got the People magazine yesterday because it had to do with the Bachlorette (this is my first season watching and I have been wrapped up in it. Prolly because it distracts from the fire and loss in my life).

    I read the article on 1/6 and thought that it was nice to see someone other then the news talking about the Marines and the military and showing that they are real people because most people don't get it. Then I turned to the page in the article and saw those KIA and thought why isn't there more about them.

    Then I saw the picture and read the caption of the men with your dear husband's casket and all I could think of was you and your daughter as soon as I read the name my jaw dropped. I did not put the pieces together until that moment that it was your hubby's unit. I will be sending the editor an e-mail.

    The American public needs to know about the men and women who are fighting and dying for us. They just see people in uniforms. Those of us who have friends and loved ones in the military instead think of the ones we care for in the face of every soldier and know that someone loves them. We know why they joined, what their plans for the future are, what they fear, and pray that they come home safetly. Most of America does not understand that.

    As a teacher for Veteran's Day I do a lesson with my students. We talk about Veteran's Day and what it is and I ask if they have any family in the military and let them talk. Many have no connections to the military so I bring out pictures of my friends, the amazing men I met in 1/7 and talk about what our military service members go through. They face danger, miss holidays and birthdays, are away from their homes and families, and do it all for us and for our country. Then I have them make a card for either a veteran they know or one of the men I know. And its amazing how they want to know more about them. When they pick a guy I show them his picture and tell them a little about them. And they usually love it.

    Sorry this was so long. Thank you for sharing your story so that other people know what military families go through especially when their loved one has laid down their life for all of us here at home. I'll keep sending prayers and thoughts your way.

    On a positive note your little girl is getting bigger and cuter all the time.

  27. REALLY glad to see you smiling in your pics...

  28. Thanks for sharing the pictures...Ari is so beautiful:) I loved her skirt at the dinner..too cute!!

    I agree with Mrs J., your blog is extremely important and read all over. As an Army wife, I think there need to be more blogs like yours. It is telling the real story. I love your writing style and I forward your blog on to everyone I can think of:)

  29. My husband was the surgeon in charge of a Forward Surgical Team in Afghanistan. During his time there, the staff reached a blanket decision: NO MEDIA. Routinely, they closed and locked the doors whenever media were around.

    The reason? My husband had been a surgeon for 23 years in the private sector. During this time, patient confidentiality was sacred ...and also lawful. A soldier doesn't give this up just because he is injured. A family doesn't need to see their son being worked on in an FST. And if a soldier is mortally wounded, I feel that the medial has no right to record those last precious moments of his life.

    Because what the media misses is that the men and women treating the soldiers are approaching as what they do as sacred. They do so with honor, integrity, and each time they lose someone it hurts a lot.

    As far as combat reporting, it all depends on the results. I have huge respect for people like Andrew Lubin, Sebastian Junger, and Tim Hetherington along with others who have covered wars for decades across the world, and have always taken great pains to get the facts correct.

  30. I know I've talked about him before, but I'm in contact with a former and soon-to-be-again embedded reporter names Michael Yon. He is self-sponsored and his primary reason for embedding is to represent the troops for us from over there. I really respect his perspective. And I remember back in the day, a FNC reporter named Brian Kilmeade was their first embedded reporter. He became a loud and proud supporter of the troops, even shouting down guests to their news show when they tried to pull the whole "evil baby-killing soldier" routine.

    All that to say, there are a few out there who are there, not necessarily because of the war, but because of the troops fighting the war. However, I've been seeing a lot over the last few weeks as to how the *institution* of the media is, frankly, not on our side (and by "our," I mean the armed forces). And I'm working on a blog post about that.

    But anyway, that's my 2 cents on the issue.


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