Thursday, June 11, 2015

It's Not Just Me: Rejected by the Allentown Morning Call

Today one of my public affairs colleagues complained that he has sent stories for years to the Allentown Morning Call and they never pick up any of them.  Other media in central Pennsylvania run stories about local National Guard soldiers, but not the Morning Call.

I just searched Army on the Morning Call web site and got no results about current soldiers.  I did get a World War 2 veteran.

Two people in the same profession, finding the same difficulty can make each other feel better by sharing difficulties.  I could do that very thing today.  I told my colleague that one of the best stories I ever had about a National Guard soldier got rejected by the Morning Call, but later was picked up by the New York Times.  It was one of the soldier stories the New York Times used in a feature about the tenth anniversary of 9-11.  The whole story of Lt. Col. Joel Allmandinger leaving the Army just before the 9-11 attacks and then re-enlisting is here.  Or you can scroll down to The Officer.  I also copied that section of the New York Times story at then end of this post.

You can also read my story about him from 2010 here.

When I can back from Iraq, local newspapers picked up my stories about several other soldiers from sergeants to colonels.  I thought the one about then-Major Allmandinger was the best of the bunch, but he is from the Allentown area and the Morning Call did not pick up the story.

 My colleague was relieved to hear I also got rejected by the Allentown newspaper and may use my story about the New York Times picking up the story the Morning Call rejected to say "It's not just me" to his commander.

Getting rejected is part of this job, but getting this story rejected really surprised me.  But if I had to choose between the New York Times and the Morning Call, it turned out for the better.

The Officer
He had graduated from West Point, served eight years as a Black Hawk pilot and wanted to try his hand in business. It was June 2001, and Joel Allmandinger was leaving the Army.
He was in California for a wedding when the attacks occurred. The groom, a firefighter, held a vigil at his wedding and introduced Mr. Allmandinger as a soldier, though he no longer was one. And that troubled him. 
“I didn’t feel part of that brotherhood of the uniform anymore,” he recalled. “These guys could immediately identify with what happened in 9/11.”
So back home in eastern Pennsylvania, he signed up for the National Guard. On his first day of duty, he wore his uniform into a store and someone thanked him for his service.
“It was odd and uncomfortable,” he recalled. “But when I got into the car and started driving to the armory, I thought, ‘That was neat.’ ”
His unit deployed twice: first in Kosovo in 2004, to fill in for an active-duty unit being sent to Iraq; and then in Iraq in 2009, where he flew dozens of missions.
A one-year commitment turned into a decade. Today he is a lieutenant colonel and battalion commander. He is also the director of sales for a national food company and a father of two.
“I think I have a much, much better appreciation for the civilian soldier,” he said. “In some ways, I see it is an even bigger commitment, the sacrifices people have. There is a duality to it that is tough.”