Sadness: Freedom Radio goes off the air in Iraq

In a flashback to Robin Williams from Good Morning Vietnam, the Washington Post reports one of the sad stories from Iraq as we prepare to pack our things and (possibly) leave. Freedom Radio, a locally based military radio network run by our troops, is going off the air after nearly a decade of operation.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE PROSPERITY, Iraq — “It’s 81 degrees in beautiful downtown Baghdad. Six oh five on your clock on Fun Fact Friday. I’m Prickel.”

“And I’m Townsend. Thanks for falling into extended formation this morning.”

An apricot sunrise burns through the gray haze over Baghdad, which wakes up Friday to the jocular baritones of two staff sergeants in a ramshackle, mostly disassembled sound booth in a squat, Saddam-era bunker on a dusty side street of the Green Zone…

It’s 100 days before the deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal , and Baghdad-based Freedom Radio — after nearly eight years of broadcasting talk and music to service members and Iraqis — terminates its live transmission at midnight and cedes the airwaves to military satellite signals from Europe and Afghanistan. Sgts. Adam Prickel, 29, and Jay Townsend, 30, have tag-teamed their Freedom Radio show, “Morning P-T,” since December — doing the weather, jazzing up military announcements, taking requests for top-40 hits and golden oldies, smudging the conservative brass with their ribald humor.

This is a lengthy, but really terrific article which provides a nice profile of some of the people involved in the broadcast, the type of service they brought to the troops and the local citizens, and the challenges they faced during their period of operation. There are more than a few parallels with the Robin Williams film, since the on air staff tended toward hijinks and humor which was as good at tweaking some of the powers that be as they were at delivering news and entertainment with a distinctly American flavor.

Above all, it also provides a profile of life during war time and how there’s a lot more going on with the day to day lives of the troops than just trudging around with guns and getting into fire fights. There are so many men and women involved in the effort, some in support roles which rarely tie directly to combat work, all of whom comprise an ad hoc society for our troops on the front lines.

Good job, folks. And thanks for doing all you did to make life for our men and women in uniform a bit more tolerable.

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John Sexton 1:00 PM on February 01, 2023