By Master Sgt. Marcia Triggs, Task Force Marne Public AffairsJuly 8, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - The graphic first started out as a blank map, but weekly it began to fill up with red dots. Those dots represented people throughout the United States learning about the lives, experiences and goals of Task Force Marne servicemembers and civilians.
"My Marne Hometown Hero" program kicked off May 15. The goal was for the Task Force Marne Public Affairs Office to facilitate 50 interviews in 50 days.
On Independence Day, the program was at day 49 and culminated with Task Force Marne being recognized on "Fox and Friends"for its success of telling the Soldiers' stories.
"We conducted 78 interviews in 48 states," said the Task Force Marne commander, Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, during the interview. "The whole purpose was to hit the local media with stories of their hometown heroes because we want to tell the story at the local level, where we know it will be received in a great way."
Major General Cucolo and Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, the task force command sergeant major, spoke to the Fox News audience of a potential one million viewers at the Contingency Operating Base Speicher Soccer Stadium. Standing behind them during the segment were 13 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians who participated in the program.
There were TV, newspaper and radio interviews conducted during the 50-day period.
Staff Sergeant Amber Magel, an administrative law noncommissioned officer in charge with TF Marne, was highlighted in her Winchester, Va., hometown newspaper.
The focus was mainly about her experiences in Iraq and what she misses about home.
Staff Sergeant Magel said she felt proud to say that she is part of the mission to improve life for Iraqis.
"We're here to support the Iraqis the best way we can, and the paper did a good job explaining that," she said.
This venture proved to Staff Sgt. Magel that she can handle talking to the media, and she said it was fun being on TV during the "Fox and Friends" interview.
In addition to the public affairs office coordinating the interviews, the staff also submitted photos of the Soldiers to newspapers, facilitated the video link up with TV news stations, and through new technology, set up the Skype interviews.
Corporal Virginia Ryan, a Jenna, La., native was interviewed by a Task Force Marne broadcaster.
The video footage was then downloaded and run by an Alexandria, La., TV station.
"I'm the only Marine with the task force, and it was an honor to represent the Marine Corps during this program," Cpl. Ryan said.
"I've learned that I have more confidence from this experience and from being here, and it's because my section and the Army encourages me to do a good job."
By close of business, July 5, the program will end with a New Jersey resident's story being told.
In the end 80 Task Force Marne Heroes stories were told in 49 states.