Just two short weeks ago NRAblog.com broke a national news story when Sarah Palin chose the NRA Gun Collectors Seminar banquet in Anchorage to make her first public post gubernatorial appearance.
Today we are making news again as NRAblog.com, in conjunction with American Rifleman magazine, has managed to embed a reporter with Task Force Warrior in Bagram, Afghanistan, to cover a 5K Memorial race sponsored by NRA. The National Firearms Museum's nationally-acclaimed Philip Schreier, a self-described "lifelong military wannabe," covered the activities of the 101st in Mosul Iraq for American Rifleman Television for 30 days in 2003. He was the NRA's first accredited war correspondent since Bill Shadel of American Rifleman sent dispatches from the front lines of World War II. Today, he is again embedded in Bagram, Afghanistan, at the invitation of Task Force Warrior. His dispatches follow …
Sunday, August 16. Shortly before the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits were held in Phoenix this past May, I received a forwarded email from Captain Arslan Chaudhry of Task Force Warrior in Bagram, Afghanistan. He asked if the NRA might be willing to sponsor a 5K Memorial race to honor two fallen soldiers. The race was scheduled for August 18, 2009. I asked what exactly being a sponsor entailed and he replied we would need to supply 700 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with tee shirts and runners numbers. NRA General Operations and NRA Publications agreed to split the fee if I agreed to write for NRABLOG.com and American Rifleman Magazine (see December 2009 issue) on the race and the cool new weapons systems currently in use by the military.
Mark Keefe, Editor in Chief of American Rifleman, called Dennis Reese of Springfield Armory and secured a brand new Springfield XD pistol for the first place award.
Getting the shirts and runners numbers was the easy part. Susan Kilday of NRA Publications, who does all the graphic art layout and design for all of the National Firearms Museums exhibit catalogs, did an excellent job of designing a logo and making the NRA logos very prominent and sharp. The 10 boxes of shirts were shipped to the APO in Afghanistan, and we crossed our fingers in hopes of their timely arrival.
The hard part was getting permission to personally cover the race for NRA -- not to mention actually getting here. The race is being held on August 18 and the Afghanistan national elections are on the 20th. Air traffic into and out of Bagram was thought to be too tight to allow a low priority scribe to gain Theatre Approval. How we managed to get approval will never be fully known but we arrived on Sunday 16 August in near 100 degree heat! I found out that the tee shirts not only had arrived in good order but were the talk of the town as those who had a sneak peek thought they were very sharp. Additionally, the CO of TF Warrior authorized their wear for PT, making them very desirable over the standard issue Army grey shirts so often seen.
The news of the Springfield pistol and the attractive tee shirts swelled the ranks of the pre-registered to over 850.
Forecast for the race: temperatures in the high 90s, low humidity, intermittent RPG and mortar fire.