Monday, February 7, 2011

Bob Woodruff

They patched him up pretty good (see before and after images above), but when American television journalist Bob Woodruff, 49, was wounded in Iraq, it was touch and go. It was January 2006, and he had just succeeded Peter Jennings (1938-2005) as co-anchor of ABC's World News Tonight. He and Canadian cameraman Doug Vogt had embedded with the U.S. 4th Infantry Division during the Iraq War. Traveling in a tank 12 miles north of Baghdad when both were seriously injured in an explosion from an improvised explosive device on January 29, 2006. Despite wearing a helmet, Woodruff sustained shrapnel wounds to the head. (He also broke his collar bone, shoulder, and ribs.) He underwent neurosurgery and was stabilized at the U.S. Air Force hospital at Camp Anaconda, and was then evacuated overnight to the U.S. Army Medical Command hospital at Landstuhl, Germany. After his return to the United States, Woodruff was treated for weeks at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Part of his skull had already been removed, but there he was kept in a medically-induced coma for 36 days to assist his recovery (2nd image shows him 2 days after waking). By early March, he had begun to walk, speak, and recognize his friends and family - although he struggled with expressive aphasia for the next year. He was transferred to a medical facility in New York in mid-March 2006, and by early April was recovering at home. By the end of the year, Woodruff was filming a TV documentary about his experience and had returned to Iraq to visit the soldiers with whom he was traveling at the time of his injury. He returned to air On February 27, 2007, but by then Charles Gibson had been named sole anchor of the evening news broadcast. Although he was nearly killed in Iraq doing his job, Woodruff says, "I never regret becoming a journalist."

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