A Guard(ian) Angell: Part One

I recently sat down with Major Cory Angell, Public Affairs Officer of the Pennsylvania National Guard to discuss not only his past and current role in the Guard, but also to gain some unique and firsthand insight into the role that the National Guard is playing in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the Public Affairs Officer for the PA Guard, Major Angell is ultimately the one that the media turns to for insights, sound bytes and details for anything related to the Guard and what they are doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Major is also responsible for facilitating embedded media with various units, meaning; if a journalist (such as myself) wanted to go cover combat missions first-hand for their respective newspaper/television network/website, Major Angell places them in the appropriate unit. The Major actually invited me to go over to Afghanistan to get some first hand coverage of the War. While I would do that in a heartbeat, my significant other threatened severe bodily harm — probably worse than what I could expect in Afghanistan — so I will have to live vicariously through Major Angell’s stories for now.

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With this audio interview being the first I’ve done for the Pigeon Post, as well as the fact I have not recorded audio professionally in some seven years, technical issues were abound — as well as some constant background noise which I did my best to edit in this first 25 minute installment. Location recording can be a bit tricky at times, so this first installment only covers Major Angell’s foray into Guard Service as a career and his current role as Public Affairs Officer and his facilitation of embedded media. We closed the first interview segment with a brief background of the 56th Stryker Brigade, the pride of the PA National Guard. I will be continuing my interview with Major Angell at The Pigeon Post sound studios in the near future as to alleviate any more technical issues (or at least keep those issues at a minimum).

In the second installment, Major Angell will further discuss the 56th as well as the continuing battles of PTSD and suicide for returning soldiers as well as the unique role that the National Guard plays in the current Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan given that they are volunteers who leave behind often lucrative jobs (and their families of course) to serve and put their lives on the line. We will also be exploring the dynamics of the military’s objectives in the winding down of the Iraq War and the escalation of War in Afghanistan as the Guard is playing an ever-increasing and important role in the future of both conflicts.

I would sincerely like to thank Major Angell for taking the time out of his schedule (and the time he is going to be taking again) to speak openly and frankly with The Pigeon Post about the realities of War from an individual who has served for coming up on 20 years and has seen the worst of the human condition, yet still hopes and yearns for the best in all of us. I’m sure our readers will find Major Angell’s story a fascinating one, though just one of the thousands of stories from the thousands of soldiers who we often forget — or exploit for political posturing — as we go about our lives and cling to the comforts of home which are far removed from the constancy of potential death that Soldiers like Major Angell face on a daily basis.

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6 Responses to “A Guard(ian) Angell: Part One”

  • Patty says:

    I’m not pro military either. I tried to discourage my son from joining the Marine Corp. I even confronted his recruiting officer: I informed him that I had hoped my son would graduate from college then join The Peace Corp, Never the Marine Corp. That was my dream for both of my sons.

  • Todd Curl says:

    Thanks for the kind words Patty. I’m not exactly “pro-military” by any stretch, but I was happy to get a first-hand account of our Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from a 20-year Guard Veteran as well as presenting unfiltered and unbiased information. Perhaps I’ll be the antithesis of Fox News where the mantra “[I] Report, You Decide” is actually a factual statement rather than Orwellian “newspeak.” I’m also glad to hear that your family members who served made it back safely.

  • Patty says:

    Another excellent and fascinating post Todd, I forwarded this to my brother & my son who were both in the Military.

  • Chick Dishong says:

    Interesting post, Todd, with some good questions. Some of the responses allow us an opportunity to see past the usual BS.

  • Todd Curl says:

    Thanks a lot Perry. I had about an hour of great stuff that got cut due to tech issues, though Major Angell is going to get together with me again so we can go into PTSD and… well, a whole bunch of interesting stuff that we usually don’t get to see or hear about. It’s funny, the Major originally asked me how many “soundbites” I was looking for. I think he was refreshed that I was looking for an actual story — in his words; from his first-hand perspective — and not just me digging for some little bit of crap to come out of his mouth to either confirm my simplistic idea of what actually happens over there or try to create what I believe to be “news.” I would love to be an “embedded Journalist” myself (wouldn’t love the bullets and IEDs around me) but my girlfriend put the kibosh on that idea pretty quick 🙂

  • Perry MacNeil says:

    Great post, and the interview was fascinating. My brother-in-Law is full-time Air National Guard, just back from Afghanistan, so the public affairs officer’s perspective was interesting to hear. (If you haven’t caught any of Maddow’s series on Afghanistan, it’s definitely must-see TV.)

    Thanks for this important post – great journalism!

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