You have to look at Patrick Peterson's computer to find something at his desk that remotely resembles his journey to the front lines. In a computer file is a picture of Peterson in Iraq, using a satellite phone to send his report back to Biloxi. He said the computer "is where, I guess, I keep my memories, digitally. Nothing has been printed up."
If you scan the newspaper reporter's digital collection, or you get him to start talking about his three months with Gulfport Marines, you hear some extraordinary stories about the Iraqi war. "It was just amazing," he said. "The Marines and I thought that we were going to have to fight our way into Baghdad block by block. But instead, people just welcomed us in."
Peterson's pictures from the war zone captivated members of the Biloxi Rotary Club. He was invited to lunch to talk about his experiences with the Marines.
WLOX News embedded journalist Nathan Mihelich was also at the lunch. He recounted stories about Gulfport Seabees. "It was tough not to get close to the people you were with," Mihelich told the group. The television reporter said being a war correspondent was an unbelievable experience. "When we were done with all of our tasks, it was really great to see the smiles on their faces, and the sense that they did a good job," he said.
Some of those smiles were in Patrick Peterson's pictures. They made it easy for the newspaper reporter to write a conclusion to his war reports. "What I tell them is I was really amazed at the way these young men performed," he said.
Peterson had an interesting footnote to this story. His brother left Tuesday for Kuwait. He headed overseas to help transport military men and women back to the states. As a going away gift, Patrick gave his brother a pair of boots -- the same boots he wore during the war.