By Kendall Downing
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Reaction is still coming in to video of the brutal execution of an American journalist. Wednesday, President Obama said the entire world is appalled by the beheading carried out by the terrorist group ISIS.
We’re also learning more about the man in that video, James Foley. He was embedded with Indiana National Guard troops in Iraq in 2008.
Foley spent months with troops in Iraq, documenting the war. Those with him at the time said he was genuine and cared about the story of the soldier.
“There are certain people that you haven’t thought about in a while, and this is about the worst way to start thinking about them,” said Sgt. Josh Stoppenhagen.
For him, James Foley isn’t just a name on the news. Jim, as he’s called, was part of Stoppenhagen’s time in Iraq with the Indiana National Guard, a journalist with a passion for covering war and all the people it affects.
“I still think the neatest thing about him is we were the first unit that he did anything like this with,” Stoppenhagen said.
In 2008, James Foley graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Chicago. He then embedded with Indiana’s 76th Infantry Brigade, based in Lawrence.
“He was just focused kind of on the next trip and the next time they were going out,” said Stoppenhagen, “He was very into what he was doing over there.”
Foley spent time freelancing in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was even captured and held in Libya in 2011. He disappeared while covering the conflict in Syria in 2012. Tuesday, he reappeared to the world in the graphic video showing his killing.
The Indiana National Guard Issued a statement on Wednesday:
“The Indiana National Guard sends our deepest condolences to the family of James Foley. Jim served alongside troops of the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Troop in Iraq as an embedded reporter in 2008. He was able to document the war and tell the story to the American public from the perspective of the Soldier. He was very well liked by many of the troops and had a genuine appreciation for them and the job they were required to do. The Soldiers he served alongside in the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will certainly miss him.”
Stoppenhagen said Foley’s legacy will live on now, showing the power and evil the militant group ISIS brings to the Middle East and the world.
“In a couple months or a year, the general public will forget his name. But they’ll never forget he was the guy that held his head high and kind of showed the rest of the world what these people are capable of,” he said.
Wednesday night U.S. officials revealed there was an operation in place earlier this summer to free Foley and others captured in Syria, though it was unsuccessful.