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Martinkus docos show reality of Afghanistan war By ShAron Webb Journalist John Martinkus reels off the date he was kidnapped in the Iraq war as if it’s perma- nently scratched on his brain. “It happened on October the 16th, 2004, at three in the afternoon,” he said. “We were car-jacked outside the hotel, had guns put to our heads and made to drive to a part of Baghdad not under government control. It was terrible. I thought: Here we go.” It’s experiences like this that gave credibility to the television war reporter, now journalism lecturer in the UTAS School of Social Sciences; John’s work for AAP and SBS in Timor, Papua, Iraq and Afghanistan is the reason the Australian War Memorial sought him out in 2012 for a month-long trip to Afghanistan with artist Ben Quilty. They wanted footage of Austral- ian soldiers at work there, to help people visiting the memorial and its website understand the experiences of Aussie troops. The upshot was that John made three short documentaries, the first of which is now on the War Memorial’s website. It’s likely most Australians have never heard such personal accounts of war and its emotional and physical effects on our soldiers as those in John Martinkus’ interviews. Being shot at and shooting others, hearing the screams of injured mates and picking up children’s limbs after an improvised explosive device goes off near a school are among the inevitably horrible scenes described by the soldiers, interspersed by the deep, reassuringly sane voiceover by John Martinkus. His war reporting experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan meant he not only knew the geography, the terrain and the issues, but also the questions to ask to gain the insights needed by the War Memorial. “There was tension in getting the military to understand what sort of footage we needed,” John said, “but, in reality, with the War Memorial our access was much better than when I was with SBS’s Dateline. “I found a lot of the lower

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