Multimedia project covers war through citizen soldiers' eyes

Viking's War is a “virtual embed” with National Guard soldiers in Afghanistan
by Juliana Keeping Published: May 27, 2012

Editor's note: Staff writer Juliana Keeping is following members of the Michigan National Guard through social media and video during a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan. She is sharing their stories with readers on NewsOK.com.

A week ago, I sat in my garden, drinking coffee, watching my daughter play, contemplating the growth of my Zinnias.

Meanwhile, 7,000 miles away, an improvised explosive device detonated, flipping Eric Lund's vehicle, trapping him in the turret. Small-arms fire rained down all around him. Both of his arms were destroyed. His face, ripped by shrapnel.

Lund is a member of the Michigan National Guard, one of 1,700 guardsmen deployed now.

Nine other Guardsmen were hurt in the blast that took Eric Lund's arms. He and two others are recovering from their injuries in Germany.

His aunt, Melissa Boggs, asked for prayers, for all of them.

“We do know he lost both his arms above the elbow,” she said Thursday. “He has a fractured pelvis and a crushed femur. He has a fracture in his back. He has many shrapnel wounds, facial fractures and a broken nose.”

He lost his right arm in the explosion. His left one had to be removed due to arterial damage.

It's easy to forget about the troops in our bubble of safety and comfort. To read something, feel something, and then just move on. It doesn't seem right.

A year ago, I had an idea.

I wanted to tell the stories of deployed Guardsmen.

I would act as more of a bridge than a correspondent, funneling citizen soldiers' experiences from the warfront to readers.

As someone who doesn't understand exactly what it's like to deploy or to wait for a loved one to return from war, I wanted to understand. Out of curiosity, a love of story, and the belief that a little additional understanding of the human experience can't hurt.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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