by Cory LeBihan
An article about a presentation given by the author of the hit Iraqi War blog, Kaboom.
News Story #1
Open seats dotted the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center as a former U.S. Army soldier told the story of his hit blog, bolting the audience to their seats and commanding all attention until he was off-stage.
On Sept. 30, Matt Gallagher, of Reno, Nev., discussed his experiences in the Iraq War written through his renowned blog, Kaboom. The event was sponsored by the University of Connecticut Department of Political Science.
The term blog is a shortened version of web log and refers to an online public journal.
Gallagher described the title of his blog, Kaboom, as an immature and campy reference to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). “I named it Kaboom because I was irreverent, and absolutely convinced an IED awaited in my future,” he said in one entry.
The blog carries this humor throughout the entries. “Funny things happen in dark places,” said Gallagher. He acknowledged this was a defense mechanism put up by troops to deal with the notion that you can die at any moment.
As a 24-year-old platoon leader stationed in Hawaii, Gallagher started the blog in November 2007.
He enjoyed writing while growing up and began the blog as a means to keep in touch with family and friends at home Gallagher said.
It wasn’t long before it morphed into something more important for Gallagher, his troops and Americans at home.
For Gallagher, the blog was a distraction. It was updated every three to four days and “helped keep my mind off the long slow messy grind of life on the ground,” said Gallagher.
The soldiers enjoyed seeing themselves manifested in writing and it also helped the families of the troops know what the platoon was up to said Gallagher.
One afternoon, Gallagher was offered a promotion but selflessly denied it, as he planned on leaving the army after his term expired.
After being “chewed out” by his commanding officer, he blogged about the exchange portraying his lieutenant colonel in a negative light reflected Gallagher. The entry eventually circulated back to his officer.
“I kind of expected it (the lieutenant colonel finding out about the blog),” said third-semester allied health major Travis Healy discussing the entry involving Gallagher’s superior officer. “The blog was so popular and all of them read it. Someone is going to tell him.”
Six months after his initial post on Nov. 23, 2007, the blog was shut down in response to his portrayal of his lieutenant colonel.
Gallagher believed there was a large rift between what was occurring in Iraq and what the general public knew. “I hoped that I helped fill that gulf,” said Gallagher.
One month after his blog was unceremoniously shut down, the Washington Post did a story on Kaboom. In the article, it cited several Pentagon employees as being saddened by the loss of Kaboom.
The readers in the Pentagon thought Kaboom provided a window into the day-to-day operations in Iraq, said Gallagher, acknowledging he had accomplished his goal.
The press coverage of Kaboom led to the re-opening of Gallagher’s blog, and it can be found online at http://kaboomwarjournalarchive.blogspot.com.
The article by the Washington Post also led to a book deal and “Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War” was published by Da Capo Press March 23.
Midway through the lecture, a ringing came from the audience. A song from the British rock group, The Killers, rose above the passionate tone of the guest speaker.
It wasn’t the ring of a phone from a careless and inattentive audience, but the sound of Kaboom’s page being loaded on a computer from an interested and active crowd.
“Agree or disagree with the war(s), if you're reading this, you're engaged and aware,” wrote Gallagher in his final Kaboom entry. “As long as that is still occurring in a free society, there is something worth the fighting for.”