Journalist Kimberly Dozier Shares Harrowing Story With Students
Kimberly Dozier, a former CBS News correspondent and current The Daily Beast contributor, spoke on campus Wednesday as part of the Foster-Foreman Conference of Distinguished Writers. The General Omar N. Bradley Chair in Strategic Leadership at Penn State Law, Dozier shared her experiences reporting on the Iraq War with students and faculty in attendance.
Dozier is an incredibly talented journalist, garnering a laundry list of awards and accolades over the course of her career, including the Edward R. Murrow Award and Peabody Award recognitions. Dozier discussed some of her work prior to covering the Iraq War, while reading passages from her book, Breathing the Fire: Fighting To Survive, and Get Back to the Fight aloud to the audience.
Dozier was severely injured while on assignment in Iraq after a car bomb exploded near the patrol she was following. The blast killed an American soldier and his Iraqi translator, along with Paul Douglas and James Brolan, Dozier’s cameraman and sound technician. Dozier survived the blast, but shattered both femurs and cut her femoral artery as a result of the shrapnel launched from the blast.
She was first taken to the Baghdad Combat Support Hospital, only to be shipped to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. There, she received skin grafts for her burns, had shrapnel removed from her skull, and had her shattered femurs reconstructed with metal rods. Miraculously, Dozier made a full recovery, and now runs in 10K races to support charitable initiatives for injured veterans. Images of the shrapnel that littered her body lay fresh in her mind as she recounted the incident in a passage from her book.
“I became aware of the countless other souvenirs left behind, lodged in my body by the bomb,” said Dozier. “In my right hand and arms, I could see red and black flecks of shrapnel laying under the skin. In my X-rays, you could actually see some marble sized chunks of molten car metal floating in my hip, a couple in my leg. There was even a small speck on the bridge of my nose, and a couple tracing the outline of my jaw.”
After her presentation, Dozier fielded a handful of questions from audience members, including a question regarding the most difficult part of her recovery process.
“In the hospital, the most difficult part was the marathon of multi-trauma,” said Dozier. “Every time I fixed one problem, there was another to fix. They were able to save my legs with large grafts, but then my body became infected with a multi-drug resistant bacteria, so they had to flood my body with Colistin, which is basically like pouring chlorine on your kidneys.”
Through it all, Dozier would return to Iraq as an intelligence writer for the Associated Press, and now works for The Daily Beast. Dozier provided stories from her experiences working in combat zones, touching on her experiences with soldiers, as well as the constant fear of ambush or attack. Dozier’s story is both influential and harrowing, and she captivated her audience as she spoke.
The Foster-Foreman conference, a biannual event hosted by the College of Communications, “attracts some of the best writers in the country to campus for free public lectures and to work in hands on and small-group sessions with students.”
Photo: Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images