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Jinx Bright White

July 30th, 2008 No comments

Jinx Bright White

In an extract from Instant-Book: Lee

Orlando, Florida, January 28, 2006

There is a Disney World ride called the Tower of Terror, and the weekend January 28, 2006, my four children, including two five-year-old begged me to go in this place over and over again.

Housed in a recreated aging Hollywood hotel, the journey begins when he gets into a creaky elevator that snakes its way through the local creepy. An electrical storm kicks and the right signal something goes wrong with power. The elevator in the hotel suddenly mysterious. The descent is so rapid, so sudden, that sucks your diaphragm up into your throat, and just before the fall is a time when they are literally suspended in the air, too stunned to scream. It feels as if speed, motion, light and weather, literally freeze.

We have had to ride half a dozen times. And then again the next morning feeling like I turned in my bed sized hotel. The previous day, the kids and I had been at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. We marveled at the African safari ride, ridden rapids in Asia, and as we have soaked away screaming from the white water by man. After an early dinner we'd rented a pedal bike with another family and laughed until they cried cyclists raced around the lake, while fireworks from Epcot exploded overhead.

Putting four kids in bed that night, in silence congratulated me on a good weekend. I had come to Disney to film a television pilot for family fun. We spent two days at the set and then the rest of the time had been rewarding children: the hairstyle of the Disney parks character autographs for the twins and thrill-seeking rides for the two largest. We had planned to fly back home on Sunday and prepare for school.

Toting around four children by myself was not new. That order week my husband, Bob Woodruff, the newly appointed co-anchor of the world tonight on ABC News, was thousands of miles away in Iraq. We spoke briefly with him that day, between the safari and the rapids ride. He and his crew had had a tiring day covering the Palestinian elections before flying to Baghdad before President Bush's State of the Union address. The plan was to increase the coverage of ABC in Iraq at an important moment in the war. The pace was blistering, common to any foreign correspondent must keep moving and file stories from faraway places in time zones eight to twelve hours ahead of ours.

Bob and his team were operating in an aggressive schedule with only a few hours of sleep each night. As usual, the itinerary was punishing. Get, get the stories about the army Iraqi anchor Baghdad during Bush's speech, making some pieces for Good Morning America, and on the way back, trying to complete an interview with Jordan's King in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

Our conversations with him from Disney World had been short and hard. The cell service in Iraq was illegal and the difference time was frustrating. We had a conversation noon on Saturday, as he and his team went to bed in a military compound somewhere in Baghdad. He exhaustedly muttered something about the much-needed sleep the next day. Exactly what he said did not register with me at the time. My daughter Cathryn was determined to buy a shell necklace Puka. With my shoulder holding the phone, I negotiated a little money from my wallet, keeping an eye on the twins, who were dangerously close to a fence in front of a bamboo forest.

Later, Bob would swear that he told me he is going to embed with the military for some exercises, while I would swear that he just said his team was going to relax during the day. At the end of our conversation I passed the cell phone around so that children might say hello. This was a common practice in our home – goodnight kisses, homework help, all via satellite. When your father covers news around the world, phone becomes a primary communication tool, for better or for worse.

"Do you feel safe there?" I asked casually, Cathryn collecting change. "Are you OK?" It was a stupid rhetorical question, made more absurd by the fact that we were currently standing Disney World, "the happiest place on earth" while he was somewhere in the most violent nation on Earth.

"Yes want. We are surrounded by the military. Okay, "he reassured me. He and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, could not know that the elevator was about to fall. In ocher sands on a highway outside Baghdad forgotten God, they were about to enter their own Tower of Terror.

That night I called the front desk 7:00 a.m. to request a reminder. With the bigger kids sleeping next to the twins, maybe I could fall down the next morning and take a dip fast in the pool before breakfast. Although it was in January in Florida, the water was invigorating and it would be a good way to start our last day in Orlando.

In a few days Bob is married and want to be a family again. His new appointment as co-anchor had a hectic pace for the past month, including weekends. His day had been packed with photos shoots, press conferences and publicity campaigns. The new program with John and Elizabeth Vargas was committed to go to history, to have an anchor in the road and in the studio as often as possible. Bob enjoyed the challenge. It was a new era at ABC News. There was excitement in the broadcast that was a welcome tonic after the months of pain after an illness, then Peter Jennings death from lung cancer. Bob and Elizabeth would give something to the news department gather around after to feel like a ship without its beloved captain.

"We have to improve until January," he had said to Bob, when leaving for the Middle East on that fateful trip. It had become a mantra for us after the announcement, as he shot out the door as a new minted co-anchor.

"I really do not want to leave you guys," he said as he leaned on the doorframe of my home office, rolling suitcase in hand. He looked exhausted, distracted, and not anxious to get back on a plane to return to Iraq for the sixth or seventh time in three years. The car was idling and the city in the driveway.

"Only reached in January, "he repeated, and life will take a more normal pattern. We'll have weekends again, and we can be a family. "

He reeled everything had been prepared, with the hope that had to figure out what could have lost. This was familiar territory, is leaving indifferent. He should have had more weight, but to give you any more importance would have jinxed in my mind. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza Strip: give him a kiss as always, treat it as a normal morning, and he will come home safe and sound. He was working within that day, and the sooner I have it in the quickest way I could finish my task.

Frankly, I thought a lot about Bob over the Disney weekend either. The day had been filled and children eager to pack as far as possible. Bob called subsistence living on the street, stories, energy, the adrenaline rejuvenated him. She loved being a journalist, and that meant leaving us for stretches of time. You may not always liked, but had made peace with him as a family. The periods of being intensely together were interlaced with periods of be separated.

As I turned around and turned off the light beside the bed that Saturday night at Disney World, I thought we all face this new challenge of Bob race too. "Co-host." It was good and bad. Well because I had reached the pinnacle of his profession, a dream job in television news, a successor one of broadcast journalism icon. Bad, because it would be even less. Our definition of family time would need some revising.

The phone Sunday morning call pierced the silence and shook me awake for a floral chintz bedspread and a room completely unknown. It took me a second to record where he was. It is true, I thought. Disney World. The wake up call.

I turned around and picked up the handset. "Thanks," I said, and lazily began to back away from the base. I had decided to lie there for a few minutes before I snuck out the door.

"Lee? Weak voice came from the receiver, now almost in place. Geesh, I thought. Personalized wake-up calls, how Disney. I took the phone to my ear to thank the man.

"Lee is David Westin, said the voice.

I had my immediate attention. My brain fired signals to my body as it rose running on pillows. The president of ABC News does not make social calls to the wives of workers at 7 am on a Sunday morning, including a co-host of the wife. I licked my lips and swallowed. Her mouth was dry.

"We have been trying to reach," he said with slow measured voice. He stopped a blow as if to gauge how I would say his next line. "Bob has been wounded in Iraq."

I Sat up, trying to process information I was hearing. Every synapse in my brain was firing. "Wounded?" I said to David Westin, as calmly as I could. "What do you mean wounded? "

"I was outside Baghdad in a horse integrate the Iraqi army. Do not have much information at this time, Lee, but we are getting so fast as we can. We're getting the best care possible. "

"David." I interrupted him. "My husband is alive?"

"Yes, Lee. Bob is alive, but we believe it may have taken shrapnel in the brain."

I tried to digest what he meant and could not understand. He was alive, I'd start with that. The rest was gravy.

"What was an anchor doing on a military exercise?" I asked, loudly. "The last I heard he was doing a story about an ice cream shop in Baghdad. I thought they were sleeping!" My mind understood by facts in search of what he knew or thought he knew. I was back in the Tower of Terror.

You can not know how to behave in a crisis until it drops the sky and knocks down like a bandit: stealing your future, robbing him of his dreams, and mocking anything that resembles security. Sudden events and even smoldering tragic disaster to teach us more about ourselves than most of us care to know.

I felt panic my voice as he spoke to David Westin, and slow tears ran down my face. At the same time, I began to feel a cool steely calm seep into my brain. Slowly formed a cocoon in which I could think and react rationally, disembodied from my emotions. In the coming months, let me handle this cocoon public nature this crisis, synthesize information, refer to medical equipment, communicating with family, and take care of the business at hand without collapsing into a mass of spineless marrow.

For now, that steely calm began to become part of me that became "The General". General who make important decisions, keep things for the troops to lead the charge, and – most important for our team – we did not lose a single man on the battlefield. The general was beginning to take over.

"Lee, we have a plane waiting for you take and the kids home to Westchester," David said. "Just tell us what time. It fed and ready to go. "

I felt I needed to stay on the line for some reason. I was not ready to start making decisions. I did not want take my first step into this new world. I wanted to relish my old life for just a minute. All four of my children were blissfully sound asleep beyond my door. Inside my room of their little lives were being hacked apart safe while they dreamed, thinking of chaos.

"Okay," I said in a small voice. "Tell me what you know. Please tell me what happened."

"Bob and the crew were traveling on a road in Taji on a routine trip," David said. "Bob was in an armored vehicle in Iraq. We believe he was doing a stand-up in time, and were hit by an [improvised IED] device explosive in an orchestrated attack on the convoy. Shots were fired after that, but none of them was hit. Bob and the cameraman, Doug Vogt, were taken by helicopter to Baghdad and go into surgery.

"Apparently he asked Vinnie, his producer, if he was alive, he did come." David spoke coolly and rationally, but was clearly shaken.

That said, I thought. Spoke. This is going to be fine. The General in my brain dictated that nothing less than the recovery would be acceptable. There were no other options. Bob would be okay. He was always good. He got lucky and bright and hardworking and a good man. Things like this do not happen to good people. I could feel the hope in my heart, in its most simple, so clear and bright as the beam of a shooting star. Hope is the most basic human emotion. It was the hope that wives have had since the days of cavemen, when they sent out their comrades beyond the campfire to fight marauding tribes. The hope it was good. It was a reaction of the brain stem. The General in my brain moved hope into the front lines, preparing for the next maneuver.

"Lee," said David gently reminded me, "there are security people on the ground to accompany him there. The plane is Waiting, just tell us what you do. Let us know what time you want to go. When I get home, we are working on getting to Germany, where Bob will be transported. "

For a moment the dumbest idea came to my mind. I thought about how much my kids had embarked on the attraction Soarin 'and see the rest Epcot. The part of my brain that was still in shock weighed the option of not ruining their perfectly planned morning for about a tenth of a second before I did click on the action.

"David, I left this process," she said. "I have people call Bob and my family, then I have to wake up children and the package. And I have to think. Let me get out of this hotel room to talk, and then I'll call you back as soon as possible. "

From the Hardcover edition.

Extracted in an instant by Lee and Bob Woodruff Copyright © 2007 by Lee Woodruff. Reprinted by permission of Random House Trade Paperback, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from editor.

Authors
Lee and Bob Woodruff live in Westchester County, New York, with her four children. Bob Woodruff was named co-anchor of ABC World News in December 2005. On January 29, 2006, while reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces, Bob Woodruff was seriously wounded by a bomb hit his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. Lee Woodruff is a public relations executive and freelance writer.

For more information, please visit www.bobwoodrufffamilyfund.org or join the e-newsletter nonfiction www.rh-newsletters.com.Orlando visiting, Florida, January 28, 2006

There is a ride at Disney World called the Tower of Terror, and the end Week of January 28, 2006, my four children, including two five-year-old begged me to go in this place over and over again.

Located in back to create an aging Hollywood hotel, the ride begins where you climb into a creaky elevator that snakes its way through the local creepy. A thunderstorm kicks, and at the right moment something goes wrong with power. The elevator in the hotel suddenly mysterious. The descent is so rapid, so sudden, that sucks your diaphragm up throat, and just before the drop there is a time when literally suspended in the air, too stunned to scream. It feels as if speed, motion, light and time literally freeze.

We have taken a walk half dozen times. And then the feeling came back the next morning as I turned in my size hotel bed. The previous day, the kids and I had been at Disney World's Animal Kingdom. We marveled at the African safari ride, ridden rapids in Asia, and soaked as we howled come from there the white water by man. After an early dinner we'd rented a pedal bike with the other family and laughed until they cried as cyclists raced around the lake, while fireworks from Epcot exploded overhead.

Putting four kids in bed That night, I silently congratulated myself on a good weekend. I had come to Disney to film a television pilot for family fun. We had spent two days in September and then the rest of the time had been rewarding children: combing the parks for Disney character autographs for the twins and the search thrill rides for the two largest. We had planned to fly back home on Sunday and prepare for school.

Toting around four children by myself was not new. That weekend my husband, Bob Woodruff, the newly appointed co-anchor of the world tonight on ABC News, was thousands of miles away, in Iraq. We spoke briefly with him that day, between safari and the rapids ride. He and his crew had had a tiring day covering the Palestinian elections before flying to Baghdad before President Bush State of the Union. The plan was to increase the coverage of ABC in Iraq at an important moment in the war. The pace was blistering, common to any foreign correspondent who must keep moving and file stories from faraway places in time zones eight to twelve hours ahead of ours.

Bob and his team were operating in an aggressive schedule with only a few hours' sleep each night. As usual, the itinerary was punishing. Get, get the stories on the Iraqi army, anchor of Baghdad during Bush's speech, making some pieces for Good Morning America, and on the way back, trying to complete an interview with King of Jordan in Amman, the Jordanian capital.

Our conversations with him from Disney World had been short and difficult. Cellular service in Iraq was illegal and the time difference was frustrating. We had a conversation noon on Saturday, as he and his team went to bed in a military compound somewhere in Baghdad. He muttered something about exhaustedly much needed sleep the next day. Exactly what he said did not register with me at the time. My daughter Cathryn was determined to buy puka shell necklace. With my shoulder holding the phone, I negotiated a little money from my wallet, keeping an eye on the twins, who were dangerously close to a fence in front of a bamboo forest.

Later, Bob would swear that he told me he is going to embed with the military for some exercises, while I I'd swear he just said his team was going to relax during the day. At the end of our conversation I passed the cell phone around so that children could say hello. This was a common practice in our home – goodnight kisses, homework help, all via satellite. When your father covers news around the world The phone becomes a primary communication tool, for better or for worse.

"Do you feel safe there?" I asked casually, Cathryn collecting change. "Are you OK?" It was a stupid rhetorical question, made more absurd by the fact that we were currently standing Disney World, "the happiest place on earth" while he was somewhere in the most violent nation on Earth.

"Yes want. We are surrounded by the military. Okay, "he reassured me. He and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, could not know that the elevator was about to fall. In ocher sands on a highway outside Baghdad forgotten God, they were about to enter their own Tower of Terror.

That night I called the front desk 7:00 a.m. to request a reminder. With the bigger kids sleeping next to the twins, maybe I could fall down the next morning and take a dip fast in the pool before breakfast. Although it was in January in Florida, the water was invigorating and it would be a good way to start our last day in Orlando.

In a few days Bob is married and want to be a family again. His new appointment as co-anchor had a hectic pace for the past month, including weekends. His day had been packed with photos shoots, press conferences and publicity campaigns. The new program with John and Elizabeth Vargas was committed to go to history, to have an anchor in the road and in the studio as often as possible. Bob enjoyed the challenge. It was a new era at ABC News. There was excitement in the broadcast that was a welcome tonic after the months of pain after an illness, then Peter Jennings death from lung cancer. Bob and Elizabeth would give something to the news department gather around after to feel like a ship without its beloved captain.

"Just get through January," he had said to Bob, when leaving for the Middle East on that fateful trip. It had become a mantra for us after the announcement, as he shot out the door as a new minted co-anchor.

"I really do not want to leave you guys," he said as he leaned on the doorframe of my home office, rolling suitcase in hand. He looked exhausted, distracted, and not anxious to get back on a plane to return to Iraq for the sixth or seventh time in three years. The car was idling and the city in the driveway.

"Only reached in January, "he repeated, and life will take a more normal pattern. We'll have weekends again, and we can be a family. "

He reeled everything was ready, waiting for me to find out what could have lost. This was familiar territory, is leaving indifferent. He should have had more weight, but to give any more importance would have jinxed in my mind. Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Gaza Strip: give him a kiss as always, treat it as a normal by morning and come home safe and sound. He was working within that day, and the sooner I have it in the quickest way I could finish my task.

Frankly, I thought a lot about Bob over the Disney weekend either. The day had been filled and children eager to pack as far as possible. Bob drew subsistence living on the street, stories, energy, the adrenaline rejuvenated him. She loved being a journalist, and that meant leaving us for stretches of time. It is possible not always liked, but had made peace with him as a family. The periods of being intensely together were interlaced with periods of being apart.

As I turned around and turned off the light beside the bed that Saturday night at Disney World, I thought we all face this new challenge of Bob race as well. "Co-host." It was good and bad. Well because I had reached the pinnacle of his profession, a plum job in television news, a successor of one of journalism dissemination of icons. Bad, because it would be even less. Our definition of family time would need some revising.

The phone Sunday morning call pierced the silence and shook me awake for a floral chintz bedspread and a room completely unknown. I took a second to register where was. It is true, I thought. Disney World. The wake up call.

I turned around and picked up the handset. "Thanks," I said, and lazily began to back away from the base. I had decided to lie there for a few minutes before I snuck out the door.

"Lee? Weak voice came from the receiver, now almost in place. Geesh, I thought. Personalized wake-up calls, how Disney. I took the phone to my ear to thank the man.

"Lee is David Westin, said the voice.

I had my immediate attention. My brain fired signals to my body as he ran up against the pillows. ABC News President does not make social calls to the wives of workers at 7 am on a Sunday morning, including a co-anchor of the wife. I licked lips and swallowed. Her mouth was dry.

"We have been trying to reach," he said with slow measured voice. He paused a beat as if to gauge how would say his next line. "Bob has been wounded in Iraq."

I Sat up, trying to process the information I was hearing. Each synapse in my brain was firing. "Wounded?" I said to David Westin, as calmly as I could. "What do you mean wounded? "

"I was outside Baghdad in a horse integrate the Iraqi army. Do not have much information at this time, Lee, but we are getting there as fast as we can. We are getting the best care possible. "

"David." I interrupted him. "My husband is alive?"

"Yes, Lee. Bob is alive, but we believe it may have taken shrapnel in the brain. "

I tried to digest what that meant and could not understand. He was alive, I'd start with this. The rest was gravy.

"What was an anchor doing on a military exercise?" I asked, raising his voice. "The last thing I knew I was doing a story about an ice cream shop in Baghdad. I thought they were sleeping! "My mind understood by the facts, looking for what he knew or thought he knew. I was back in the Tower of Terror.

You can not know how to behave in a crisis until it drops from the sky and knocks down like a bandit: stealing your future, robbing him of his dreams, and mocking anything that resembles security. Sudden events and even tragic disasters combustion slow to teach us more about ourselves than most of us care to know.

I felt the panic in my voice as he spoke to David Westin, and slow tears ran down my face. At the same time, I began to feel a cool steely calm seep into my brain. Slowly formed a cocoon in which I could think and react rationally, disembodied from my emotions. In the coming months, let me handle this cocoon the public nature of this crisis, synthesize information, refer to medical equipment, communicating with family, and take care of the business at hand without collapsing into a mass of spineless marrow.

For now, that steely calm began to become part of me that became "The General". General who make important decisions, hold things for the troops, conduct load, and – most important for our team – we did not lose a single man in the field of battle. The general was beginning to take over.

"Lee, we have a plane waiting for you take and the kids home to Westchester, "David said." Just tell us what time. It is powered and ready to go. "

I felt I needed to stay on the line for some reason. I was not ready to start making decisions. I did not want to take my first step into this new world. Would relish my old life for just a minute. All four of my children were blissfully sound asleep beyond my door. In my small room with sure lives were being hacked apart while they dreamed, thinking of chaos.

"Okay," I said a small voice. "Tell me what you know. Please tell me what happened. "

"Bob and the crew were traveling on a road in Taji on a routine trip," David said. "Bob was an armored vehicle in Iraq. We believe he was doing a stand-up in time, and were hit by a [IED improvised] explosive device in an orchestrated attack on convoy. Shots were fired after that, but neither was hired murderer. Bob and the cameraman, Doug Vogt, were flown by helicopter to Baghdad and have surgery.

"Apparently he asked Vinnie, his producer, if he was alive, he did come." David spoke coolly and rationally, but was shaken clarity.

That said, I thought. Spoke. This is going to be fine. The General in my brain dictated that nothing less than the recovery would be acceptable. There were no other options. Bob would be okay. He was always good. He got lucky and bright and hardworking and a good man. Things like this do not happen to good people. I could feel the hope in my heart, at its most simple, so clear and bright as the beam of a shooting star. Hope is the most basic human emotion. It was hoped that the wives have had since the days of the caveman, when they sent out their comrades beyond the campfire to fight marauding tribes. Hope it was good. It was a brainstem response. The General in my brain moved hope into the front lines, preparing for the next maneuver.

"Lee" said David gently reminded me, "there are security people on the ground to accompany him there. The plane is waiting, just tell us what you do. Let us know what time you want to go. When I get home, we are working on getting to Germany, where Bob will be transported. "

For a moment the dumbest idea came to my mind. I thought about how much my kids had embarked on the attraction Soarin 'and see the rest of Epcot. The part of my brain that was still in shock weighed the option of not ruining their perfectly planned morning about a tenth of a second before I clicked on the action.

"David, I left this process," she said. "I have people call Bob and my family, then I have to wake the children and the package. And I have thought. Let me get out of this hotel room to talk, and then I'll call you back as soon as possible. "

Of hardcover edition.

Extracted in an instant by Lee and Bob Woodruff Copyright © 2007 by Lee Woodruff. Reprinted by permission of Random House Trade Paperback, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Authors
Lee and Bob Woodruff live in Westchester County, New York, with her four children. Bob Woodruff was named co-anchor of ABC World News in December 2005. 29 January 2006, while reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces, Bob Woodruff was seriously wounded by a bomb hit his vehicle near Taji, Iraq. Lee Woodruff is a public relations executive and freelance writer.

About the Author

For more information, please visit www.bobwoodrufffamilyfund.org or join the nonfiction e-newsletter by visiting www.rh-newsletters.com.






































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