EDITOR’S NOTE - This story is based on a report filed by Mich
EDITOR’S NOTE - This story is based on a report filed by Michael Conlon of Reuters, a member of the Pentagon media pool in the Persian Gulf.
ABOARD THE USS CORONADO (AP) _ An American couple covering U.S. military action in the Persian Gulf hops from ship to ship to keep up with a sometimes dangerous story, often serving as the eyes and ears of U.S. television.
Steve and Anne Cocklin - he a cameraman and she his sound technician - have been in the gulf since late last year, operating through the Pentagon’s news media pool.
Cocklin, 37, and his 34-year-old wife, both from Buffalo, N.Y., came to the region after the United States offered flag protection to Kuwaiti oil tankers in July last year.
Iran, at war with Iraq since September 1980, attacks merchant vessels in the gulf in retaliation for Iraqi raids on Iranian-chartered shipping.
The Cocklins, who have a 19-month-old daughter, Kate, soon became a common sight on the Navy frigates, destroyers and helicopters that criss-cross the gulf with pool members on board.
Asked if they have ever felt their lives were on the line, both answered without hesitation ″April 18.″ That was the day U.S. forces destroyed two Iranian oil rigs and damaged two frigates in daylong fighting that was the most intense since the United States began its tanker patrols.
″In any other situation we’ve ever been in, any combat, you can go in, get the bang-bang, and get out. But this time we had to stay put. We were the target,″ Mrs. Cocklin said. ″You just have to hope that all those young kids you’re seeing there have been trained and trained well.″
The Cocklins were filming from a firing deck of the USS Jack Williams, a guided missle frigate, when it came under attack off the coast of Iran north of the Strait of Hormuz, at the southern end of the gulf.
″It only lasted for about an hour, an hour and a half. But it seemed like a lot longer,″ Cocklin said. ″Anne said to me, ‘I wonder if it’s going to end.’ They kept calling ‘missile inbound’ and they’d go through a lot of maneuvers, flank speed, throwing chaff out. It was scary.″
At one point a Navy helicopter crewman picked up a gun ″Rambo style″ and started firing at what appeared to be an incoming missile which passed by the stern of the ship, Cocklin said.
In Buffalo, Steve Cocklin worked for local TV stations and his wife had a job in advertising until she was awarded a Rotary club fellowship in Florence, Italy, eight years ago.
After the fellowship the couple stayed in Italy, trying unsuccessfully to break into television news work.
″We were down to our last $100 and getting ready to go home,″ Cocklin said. ″That was in 1981, in May. The Pope got shot. The telephone started ringing. I’ve been working for the networks ever since.″
Their work included several visits to the battle zones in Beirut before they went on the gulf.