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Dozier heads back to work after Iraq ordeal

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier nearly lost her life in Iraq a year ago and has endured 25 operations in her painful recovery. Yet, last week on assignment in Baltimore, she was left alone to lug 15 cases of camera equipment out to a van.
/ Source: The Associated Press

CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier nearly lost her life in Iraq a year ago and has endured 25 operations in her painful recovery. Yet, last week on assignment in Baltimore, she was left alone to lug 15 cases of camera equipment out to a van.

Welcome back to work!

“That day I skipped my physiotherapy workout,” she said on Wednesday.

While eager to work again, Dozier looks back on her ordeal in a wrenching hour-long special that will air on CBS in prime time on May 29. That’s exactly a year after a bomb packed in a yellow taxi exploded while she was on assignment, killing CBS News cameraman Paul Douglas, sound-man James Brolan and a U.S. Army captain, while injuring several others.

The special, “Flashpoint,” traces the impact of a single bombing — nearly an everyday occurrence in Iraq — on the lives of those left behind.

There was the widow of Capt. James Alex Funkhouser, left to tell their two young daughters that Daddy was dead; Sgt. Justin Farrar, racked with guilt that Funkhouser said to leave his side and stand by Dozier; the CBS producer tortured by the knowledge she convinced the Army to let Brolan come on the assignment; and Dozier herself, worried that Douglas and Brolan’s widows would “want to know why I took their husbands into that.”

The assignment had been to follow the Army’s Fourth Infantry Division on Memorial Day, to show how it was just another dangerous day in Iraq.

Dozier sat in a New York City restaurant Wednesday watching a screening of the special, alternately dabbing tears from her eyes and scribbling notes to give to executive producer Susan Zirinsky.

The special contains some remarkable footage obtained quite by chance: a CNN crew happened to be filming a feature in the field hospital where Dozier and injured soldiers were hurriedly brought after the blast.

Medics are shown working frantically on Dozier, who needed almost a complete blood transfusion. Dozier’s eardrum was shattered, and shrapnel severely damaged her legs.

She moans in agony in the footage shown on the CBS special.

CNN let CBS use all of its material from that day, although CBS did have to pay for it. “They were nice,” Zirinsky said. “But they were not that nice.”

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Dozier’s experience has opened CBS’ eyes to many stories that its reporters might not otherwise know, said anchor Katie Couric, who narrates the report. One example is the curious tendency of bones to grow too much in blast survivors; Dozier had to undergo an operation to have some bone material chipped away.

CBS didn’t expect the documentary to be ready for the one-year anniversary of the blast. One of Dozier’s surgeries earlier this year was expected to require eight weeks of recovery time, but Dozier was ready after a week.

She’s shown taking extensive physical therapy.

“To get back to my job, I have to prove to my company that I can run, and I can run from trouble,” she said.

Dozier has begun doing some stories in the United States related to wartime experiences. She and CBS News President Sean McManus have been discussing future assignments, but nothing has been decided yet. Dozier said she wants to get back to the Middle East, where she specializes in covering the conflicts there and Islamic radicalism.

“I’m not asking him to send me back to Iraq,” she said. “I’m not ready to go back to Iraq.”