Mast Fall 2001
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From the Front Lines:

Saying goodbye

D-Day for Operation Anaconda

Entering the fray

Left in the dark

Weathering the combat

Realities of the job

Making hard choices

 

Other Features Stories:

We're Changing Things

A Degree of Difficulty

United by a Friend

From the Front Lines

Making hard choices

Balancing his career and family life provides another challenge for Savidge.

"It's very hard. My family makes the greatest sacrifice because I go off, I have the adventures, I do the work, while they're staying at home and have got to get on without me. My kids hate it when the pager goes off."

When he left Afghanistan, he had to go through London to return home. His side of the family is from England, so he suggested to his wife and children that they join him. What was to be a 10-day vacation turned into two weeks, then three weeks.

"That was the best thing to do, because I realize that if I come straight home, I should be doing this, fixing that, and I don't focus on what I should be focusing on, and that's my family. We have go get to know each other again. They've gotten along without me, and suddenly I'm thrust back in among them."

While he's gone, his wife has to take over everything: paying bills, buying cars, taking the cat to the vet and the kids to the emergency room. They do talk on the phone a lot while he's away and send e-mails back and forth with pictures.

"I try to fax drawings and goofy stuff. I say if you've got 10 minutes to call home, call five times, two minutes a day. I call when the kids come home from school. Every night I call to say prayers with them because I want them to know and feel I'm still part of their life."

Meanwhile, he's hoping to eventually obtain a position at CNN that won't be so trying for him and his family.

"I don't want to do this forever. My wife and I have agreed. I don't like being away so long, so frequently, and it's so hard to know when. Very soon, ideally like within a year or two, I think we'd like to get an anchor/correspondent position."

Another consideration surfaced while Savidge was on assignment in Kashmir, the region over which India and Pakistan are battling. He was talking with a CNN cameraman about friends killed on the job.

"It comes down to, 'How long can we continue to push our luck until eventually the odds start to go against us?' We've been very lucky so far. There is a point you begin to think, 'Maybe I've used up that good luck.' I'm sure other folks, friends of ours who are dead, thought they were fine. It's just another factor that weighs on your mind. On top of, 'How long am I going to be away from home?' it's 'How long is my luck going to hold?' It's another impetus to say I need to move on."

Joan Slattery Wall is assistant editor of Ohio Today.

 

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