Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Rockets so close you can smell them
Monday was a quiet day along Israel's border with Lebanon. Instead of more than 100 Katyushas hitting the area, only a handful did.

But it was my first day here and I was still adjusting to the loud sound of artillery going off around us. So one rocket, two rockets, three rockets. It felt crazy enough for me. But all in all, by Monday night, I thought, "Not bad, I can handle this."

However, that peace of mind would not last long.

Tuesday around 2:30 a.m. local time, cameraman Neil, driver Elias and I left our hotel to start prepping for the show at our live location about 20 minutes away. We were about halfway there when a rocket or perhaps a mortar hit up ahead. That was followed by a second one, which landed even closer.

It took a second for us to all realize what actually was happening. I believe I even asked, "Is that incoming our outgoing?" The fireworks-like effect should have made it obvious enough.

Elias pulled the van over to the side and we debated for a second whether to drive forward or stay put. Then Neil pointed out that incoming fire often come in packs and that we were a sitting duck by staying parked to the side. I am not sure if it helps to stay still, drive your way through or turn around. All I knew was I wanted to get the hell out of there.

As we moved forward and around the bend, we found ourselves right next to the site of the explosions. There was a lot of smoke and the smell burned my nose. A piece of casing was sitting on the road. Neil managed to crack a joke about getting out of the car to shoot some b-roll. But I couldn't muster a smile. I was too busy trying to get my flak jacket and helmet on.

We made it to our show location safely and the show itself went smoothly. But I have to admit, I was spooked. I spent much of today wearing my flak jacket ... even in our hotel ... opening myself up to some friendly ribbing at the hands of my colleagues.

Here's hoping tonight is a little less eventful.
Posted By MaryAnne Fox, CNN Producer: 5:34 PM ET
  47 Comments
I'd be spooked too. Stay safe and out of harms way if that's even possible now.
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Warren Mi : 6:03 PM ET
When I was living in El Salvador during their civil war, a photojournalist ran into the open to get better photos of a battle. He was shot dead. If you can't relate, I can explain in more words.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 6:08 PM ET
Maryann - Please wear your flak jacket and helmet. I'd rather you took some ribbing rather than a direct hit.

Be safe. I hope you, Anderson and your whole crew come home soon. Godspeed.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie, Chicago, IL : 6:11 PM ET
that sounds terrifying...
now imagine being in lebanon but instead of a few rockets coming your way
your in bed and 50 ton bombs are raining down!
in southern lebanon all are sitting ducks
Posted By Anonymous Joe Azzi Beirut Lebanon : 6:11 PM ET
Welcome to the border! You all stay safe out there, you're doing a great job.
Posted By Anonymous Julia, Ft. Lauderdale, FL : 6:11 PM ET
The greastest hope I am sure that every person of every nation could have is for long lasting peace for the sake of the civilians caught in the cross-fire. Diplomatic solutions are essential, the loss of life has already been too numerous. After the 48 hr cease fire winds down, what then? If indeed Hezbollah only has 6000 fighters, they seem more like a nuisance that has gained a bit of political leverage, exactly the reason why dialogue must be engaged before the situation escaltes any more than it already has. God speed to all journalists in the middle of the cross-fire, especially John Roberts and Anderson Cooper.
Posted By Anonymous Jane Doe, Ocala FL : 6:14 PM ET
Finally some raw emotions!LOL This is where you ask yourself, "Am I getting paid enough to do this?" If you see Anderson, ask him if he has seen Warren Jeffs in the Middle East. I'm waiting for an update. Good luck.
Posted By Anonymous Ysidra, Yuba City, CA : 6:17 PM ET
A flak jacket in the hotel? Okay, you do realize that we are going to laugh at you too, right?

Be safe:) Maybe not that safe but be safe just the same.
Posted By Anonymous Anon, Vancouver, BC : 6:20 PM ET
So MaryAnne, welcome to Anderson Cooper's world.
Posted By Anonymous Judy Stage Brooklyn, Michigan : 6:22 PM ET
Hi MaryAnne, I don't know how you guys do it, but your courage is admirable. I pray for your safety and protection everyday. Keep that vest and helmet on. Come home soon. Take care,
Posted By Anonymous Beth, Edmonds, WA : 6:24 PM ET
That must have been quit an adventure. I cannot even begin to imagine what went through the minds of all those innocent kids when they heard the bomb straight on their heads in Qana.. :((

It is a sad sad sad situation.. It is time something needs to be done by the Intl. community before the world is torn apart in the name of religion and terrorism.
Posted By Anonymous Himali, Houston, Texas : 6:31 PM ET
stay safe as you are doing a very important job . this gives you a taste of the hell lebanese people have endured the last thirty years off and mostly on. take care
Posted By Anonymous may bakersfield ca : 6:36 PM ET
Wow MaryAnn, what a way to learn the hard way eh? If I were you I'd be wearing all your gear to bed as well as everywhere else.
Take Care
Bev
Posted By Anonymous Bev. Ontario Canada : 6:45 PM ET
Keep the jacket and lid on, they don't protect you otherwise. If you don't feel safe, you probably aren't. Don't let the ribbing cause you to lower your guard. Know when to duck, when to hide and when to run like hell. Keep as safe as you can and still do your job. We care about you and wish you Godspeed!
Posted By Anonymous Craig, Tustin, CA : 6:48 PM ET
That was a little too close for comfort! Keep your flak jackets and other gear on when you are outside the hotel.
Posted By Anonymous Genevieve M, El Paso, TX : 6:55 PM ET
"Here's hoping" you don't find yourself in a another deadly game of monkey in the middle. It also sounds like you got enough flak for today. Good luck.
Posted By Anonymous Carol B. Frederick, MD : 7:00 PM ET
I don't blame you for wearing the vest. Mark my words, one day Prada, Gucci, or other designers will make a flak vest with a matching Burberry helmet and then it'll be trendy. Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Kimberly, New York, NY : 7:27 PM ET
MaryAnn,
I would have been scared too. Thanks for being brave and doing your job well.I am praying for you, Anderson, and the rest of the team to keep safe during this crisis. God Bless.
Stephanie Wood
Posted By Anonymous Stephanie Wood, Charles Town, WV : 7:33 PM ET
I was in Beruit before i was evacuated on july 24. I know what you are talking about, the sound is gut wrenching. the Night that they started to shell us, i heard my eldest son scream to his brother to duck under the bed. my eldest is 14 and my youngest a 13 year old. we went there for a vacation one that turned into a nightmare. that very night my eldest son started to scream that he wanted the sounds to stop. But the sounds never stopped for hours. My youngest still wakes up in the middle of the night screaming even though we are here in the States safe and sound.
To my fellow Americans, the sound of these 50 ton bombs are beyond describable.
Mr. cooper, stay safe, and i understand how it feels to hear these bombs fall and wondering if i will ever see the light of day
Jane
second generation American
Posted By Anonymous Jane Makkawi, Yorba Linda, California, United States : 7:43 PM ET
Hi. Do we need to get Cher on all of your cases?

You go right ahead and wear the vest...but don't forget the helmet. As someone who has worked with kids with traumatic brain injuries, it bothers me no end to see reporters wearing flak jackets but no helmets. I was especially surprised to see Dr. Gupta, a brain surgeon who has probably worked with many of the kinds of kids I've taught and also has seen some of our wounded troops, without a helmet. Vanity, to me, looks worse on the air than overcoming one's vanity and looking like Beetle Bailey; temporary helmet hair is better than the more-permanent alternative.

I just wish there were a ceasefire, since the civilians caught on all sides of this don't have flak jackets and helmets.

Stay safe. Peace.
Posted By Anonymous Norah, West Chester, PA : 7:44 PM ET
saftey first do everything that you can to be protected...unfortunatelly not everyone is as lucky as all of you, for one you can leave.
The poor people being bombarded daily, roads destroyed so there is nowhere to go sad, no flak jackets for them..
Posted By Anonymous eva Atlanta GA : 7:49 PM ET
MaryAnne: Word over here is that those Flak Jackets are making quite a fashion statement now so you go girl and keep wearing it! Stay Safe!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 8:03 PM ET
Maryanne,
I think I would be looking for a flak suit and a second helmet...just in case the first one had a malfunction. Stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Michele, Slidell, LA : 8:17 PM ET
Keep safe and let your senses guide you. In your business I'm sure you can sense events before they happen.
Posted By Anonymous Marie, Montreal, Canada : 8:40 PM ET
If I was on the Israel/Lebanon border I would be wearing my flak jacket and helmet everywhere, hotel included.360's coverage has been really trememdous but I get more nervous for all you each night.Your courage and determination to report this story from the frontlines is tremendous.I hope though that tonight and the rest of your nights there are less eventful too.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Durham NC : 8:47 PM ET
I have to say that I've been watching 360 for the last little while and its the most comprehensive and objective outlook on the war thus far. Im glad you are alright and keep up the great work.
Posted By Anonymous Sima Surrey British Columbia : 9:10 PM ET
You go girl! I was on a houseboat a few years back and we had a storm . I slept in several life jackets and took all kinds of flack. Maybe you will err on the side of caution and keep all of those guys out of trouble. Best of luck to you and stay safe.
Posted By Anonymous Kathy Chicago, Il : 9:26 PM ET
As they say, keep a low profile...of course, the good news in all this, is that Hezbollah's rockets miss their mark 90 percent of the time. But then, what can you expect from pantie waists who hide behind women and children?

Porgie Tirebiter
Posted By Anonymous Porgie Tirebiter, Peekskill, New York : 3:30 AM ET
Hey there from Israel, your nice little adventure doesn't even come close to the barrage of rockets that fall on the people of northern Israel day and night, and it hardly describes the weeks of bombing, wrecked nerves, living in horid shelters, damage to houses, cars, people, animals, business, life. However, it's a change to hear reporting from the Israeli side. Cheers and take care.
I must add that I'm truely sorry for the people of southern Lebanon who have lost their homes and loved ones, and know the suffering they must be going through, and hope that this will end soon, so that the damaged parts of Lebanon can be restored and we can make peace with them.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon, Haifa, Israel : 5:31 AM ET
Stay safe!

It seems to me that you guys are right on the front line. Maybe you guys should stay in a bunker of some sort, at least when you are not outside.

I have always enjoyed all your reports from all the Hurricanes to all the wars. Can you guys not go to a safe place in Lebanon and report from there as well. Sometimes to me it seems that you are missing the other side of the world (more nastier). What ever you do. Stay safe.

Good luck!
Posted By Anonymous Riz Hossain, Waterloo, Ontario Canada : 6:15 AM ET
What reporting! Very Scary... Sad that's a way of life (or death) for the folks that live there... Be careful, be safe but thanks for being there...
Posted By Anonymous Sherry Sarasota Florida : 9:31 AM ET
Thanks for bringing us news from the frontlines. Can't imagine being in your shoes. Be safe. Make it home.
Posted By Anonymous Lydia, Taiwan : 9:44 AM ET
What an experience man! Now, just imagine having those feelings day and night in your backyard... Tough right? It is what Israeli men, woman and children have been feeling day and night since Hizballah started targeting them 3 weeks ago.
IF TARGETING CIVILIANS DELIBERATELY LIKE THAT IS NOT TERRORISM, THEN WHAT IS?
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Miami, FL : 9:52 AM ET
I here some say that America is taking Israel's side because there are jewish voters here,Well there are jewish voters in UK too. The truth is that America is a primarily christain counrty and the VOTERS overwelmingly support Israel, & to not listen to them when they say protect Israel at all cost is political suicide,there is almost as much support for israel's war on hezbollah,in america as there is in Israel itself.
Posted By Anonymous Phillip Bias, Glade, United States : 11:32 AM ET
Simple reality... you harbor terrorists and rockets, you lose your house. It is sad to see innocent Lebanese die, but not all of them are innocent. Many hide terrorists and the reason Israel bombs houses is because there are rockets there... so how innocent are these Lebanese when they hide rockets that are going to be used to kill innocent Israelis. I have family in the Israeli Army and they would never intentionally kill innocent people. Just keep it in mind that Hezbollah obviousley wanted the violence that is going on. Resolution 1559 calls for the ban of Hezbollah so why wouldn't Israel have the right to fulfill that resolution if nobody else will?
Posted By Anonymous Ben, Clearwater, Florida : 11:43 AM ET
The smell. I've often wondered about that sensation. Through the camera lens, I'm able to see and through the microphone, I'm able to hear. But the sense of smell and feel never registered with me until your post.

Does it smell like a gun firing range? Can you feel the heat of the rocket? Is it hot there?
Posted By Anonymous Mina, Ashburn VA : 12:46 PM ET
The inherent value of journalism is constantly apparent in times like these. It is essential for the world to know what is going on in order for understanding and peace to be reached. I am personally impressed by your courage in the face of such danger. The wearing of a flak jacket inside of a hotel is inconsequential next to the simple action of going outside. That said, I am thoroughly appalled at the comment that begged you to question whether or not you were getting paid enough. The progress that can be made thanks to your reporting is all that is necessary to justify your job. Remember that the only goal is truth, not life, for peaceful life can only be obtained after truth is. Godspeed,
Posted By Anonymous Clint Richardson East Lansing, MI : 12:49 PM ET
Scary, but oddly exciting at the same time. And the really scary thing is that it sounds like if you're there long enough, you'll get used to it!

Stay calm, get you "girl" on and keep those CNN guys in line. Good luck.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Kansas City, MO : 12:57 PM ET
We are so grateful to you for keeping the world updated...but PLEASE be careful and stay safe.

Yes a flak jacket in the hotel is funny, but I can't say I wouldn't do the same.
Posted By Anonymous Sierra Neuman, Sunriver OR : 1:40 PM ET
Thank you for risking your life just to give us news from Lebanon-Israel war. It has been very helpful to us esp with my fellow countrymen whos stuck there and cant get out at this time. I hope all of you are safe there. We're praying for you.
Posted By Anonymous Toots, Manila, Philippines : 2:34 PM ET
I'm sure it's scary as hell, MaryAnne. I'd be wearing my flak vest and helmet too! You take girl power to a whole new level. Keep your head down and come home safe.
Posted By Anonymous Rhonda, Chapel Hill, NC : 3:11 PM ET
Hi MaryAnne,
I think you are wise to be spooked..I'd not only wear the jacket and helmet, but I'd probably put on body armor, gas mask, gloves, goggles and steel shoes..Inside the hotel and out...Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif. : 4:09 PM ET
I bet Bob Woodruff would tell you it's worth the ribbing to be wearing the helmet and jacket....keep on wearing it and stay safe. Thank you for keeping us informed and stay safe!
Posted By Anonymous Mary, New York : 4:13 PM ET
Ernie Pyle never wore a flak jacket anywhere, and yes, flak jackets existed.

Today's 'jouranlist' is only in danger of sunburn.

Good grief.
Posted By Anonymous marc,simi valley, CA : 5:11 PM ET
Hi MaryAnne:
Your collegues as they have stated before are getting used to this. So they can afford to rib you.Still I'll bet they were ALL shaking in their boots (no pun intended) You all must have a lot more guts (or stupidity..lol) than most people I know.
Let them tease you all they want as long as you all stay safe and come home soon.
Posted By Anonymous Gail. Ontario, Canada : 11:01 PM ET
Hi MaryAnne,
My heart is with you. It is a hell of an important thing that you are doing.
I have seen a small caricature, showing an Israeli soldier and a Hezbollah terrorist (yes!) shoouting at each other, and a baby cradle hiding behind the Israeli soldier's back while a same cradle stands in front of the Hezbollah as a shield... This may explain the differences in the morality of both sides as well as the horrible balance of innocent victims on both sides.
Keep it safe !
From a father to a soldier which is at this very moment fighting in Southern Lebanon.
Posted By Anonymous Amnon, Raanana, ISRAEL : 7:46 AM ET
Hi maryanne i just want you to know i am praying for you but i am happy ypu told everyone about your scary experience so people can actually appreciate what these people have been going through every single day for over three weeks!!
Posted By Anonymous Leila, Tripoli, Lebanon : 5:28 PM ET
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