Rieckhoff, Paul 1975-
Rieckhoff, Paul 1975-
Born 1975; son of an electrician and a nurse. Education: Amherst College, B.A., 1998.
Writer, soldier, activist, educator, television and radio commentator, film producer, investment banker, coach, and administrator. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), founder and executive director; Operation Truth, founder. JP Morgan, investment banking analyst, 1999-2001. Worked as a high school football coach. Coproducer of documentary, When I Came Home; executive producer of The Wolf, Los Angeles, CA. Frequent guest on radio and television stations and networks, including The Week with George Stephanopoulos, ABC, Hannity & Colmes, Fox News Channel, NBC Nightly News, 60 Minutes II, CBS, Paula Zahn Now, CNN, World News Tonight, ABC, Al Franken Show, Air America, and All Things Considered, National Public Radio. Military service: Enlisted in U.S. Army Reserves, 1998; served with 812th Military Police Company; served as an infantry officer with the 3rd Infantry and 1st Armored Divisions in Iraq, 2001-04; first lieutenant in New York Army National Guard, 2004—.
Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington, NAL Caliber (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including AlterNet and the International Herald Tribune.
Paul Rieckhoff is a writer, activist, and former Army infantry officer who served a ten-month tour of duty in some of the more dangerous areas of Iraq. A former investment banker on Wall Street, Rieckhoff left that job a few days before the September 11th terrorist attacks. Later, he spent several weeks working as a volunteer in the rescue effort at ground zero. Rieckhoff volunteered for duty in Iraq, and in 2003, he was deployed there with the 3rd Infantry Division. As a platoon leader, he commanded hundreds of combat patrols in the Adamiyah section of Baghdad. Although the thirty-eight soldiers under his command did sustain some injuries, they all returned alive. Rieckhoff was released from active duty in March, 2004, and currently serves as an infantry officer in the New York Army National Guard.
While in Iraq, Rieckhoff experienced firsthand the conditions under which American soldiers have been expected to operate. He observed the poor planning, lack of material support, and inadequate mission goals, as well as the insufficient number of troops available to make operations in Iraq work properly. Above all, he saw how the deficiencies in American foreign policy in Iraq only made matters worse in a volatile environment where Americans have sometimes been seen as invaders rather than liberators.
When he returned to civilian life after active duty, Rieckhoff knew that the military service members needed a voice outside of government, one that had direct experience and knew what was needed to make their mission safer and more successful. As an advocate for the soldiers who have served in the Middle East, Rieckhoff founded and serves as the executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), an organization dedicated to the needs of veterans who have been involved in the War on Terror. He is also the founder of Operation Truth, an organization designed "to advocate for better pay, family support, equipment and counseling for current and former soldiers—and to provide a forum for veterans to discuss what went right, and what went wrong, in Afghanistan and Iraq," noted Jennifer Barrett Ozols in an article on MSNBC.com.
In Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington, Rieckhoff tells the story of his military and combat experience in Iraq and the problems he experienced there. He recounts in detail the combat operations, the constant worry about attack, the tense relationship between the American military and the Iraqi citizenry, and the supremely frustrating attempts to fight an insurgency that appeared to have the ability to appear and disappear at will like the ghosts in the book's title. His work also showcases his attempts to connect with members of both the Republican and Democrat parties in order to improve conditions for soldiers in Iraq. Booklist reviewer Frieda Murray called Rieckhoff's book "a most commendable eyewitness report on Iraq." Nancy Larrabee, writing in the Library Journal, observed that Chasing Ghosts is a "somewhat angry but undeniably proud narrative" presented with the intent to illustrate "circumstances in Iraq from a soldier's perspective."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2006, Frieda Murray, review of Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington, p. 20.
Book World, July 16, 2006, Stephanie Giry, "Beyond Our Borders," review of Chasing Ghosts, p. 13.
Library Journal, May 1, 2006, Nancy Larrabee, review of Chasing Ghosts, p. 103.
Mother Jones, August 14, 2005, biography of Paul Rieckhoff.
New York Times, May 1, 2004, Carl Hulse, "Iraq Veteran Will Deliver War Critique for Democrats," p. A11; May 2, 2004, Anthony Ramirez, "National Guard Officer Offers Criticism of Bush's Iraq Plans," p. A16; October 29, 2004, Lynda Richardson, "Back from Iraq, and Fighting for Soldiers," profile of Paul Rieckhoff, p. B2.
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006, review of Chasing Ghosts, p. 75.
MSNBC.com,http://www.msnbc.com/ (August 6, 2004), Jennifer Barrett Ozols, "Q&A: A Soldier Seeks the Truth about Iraq," interview with Paul Rieckhoff.
Paul Rieckhoff Home Page,http://www.paulrieckhoff.com (May 14, 2007).
Paul Rieckhoff MySpace page,http://www.myspace.com/paulrieckhoff (May 24, 2007).
PBS Now,http://www.pbs.org/now/ (June 30, 2006), "Murder amidst War: Interview with Paul Rieckhoff."