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Interview with Veteran War Correspondent Mike Boettcher on ‘The Hornet’s Nest’

May 16, 2014
Mike Boettcher

War correspondent Mike Boettcher in ‘The Hornet’s Nest’ (Courtesy)

Award-winning veteran war correspondent Mike Boettcher has seen a lot during his more than 30 years working as a journalist. From being kidnapped by terrorists in El Salvador in 1985 to surviving an attack by a suicide bomber in Baghdad in the mid-Aughts, Boettcher has found himself in a number of extremely dangerous situations throughout his career.

In the new documentary The Hornet’s Nest, Boettcher and his son Carlos, both working for ABC News, spend two years in Afghanistan capturing footage of U.S. soldiers at war. The Current sat down with Boettcher during a tour stop in San Antonio a couple weeks ago after a screening of the film.

The Hornet’s Nest opens in San Antonio May 16 at Santikos Embassy 14.

Tell me about the first time you ever stepped foot in Afghanistan.

The first time I stepped foot in Afghanistan was early 2002. The war began after 9/11 and I went there, and there actually weren’t many troops coming in. When I stepped foot in Afghanistan, there’s something about that country – that part of the world – that has so much history. You’re stepping foot into a place that has been the crossroads of history for millenniums. That was not lost on me. I knew anything we would undertake there was not going to be easy.

In The Hornet’s Nest, you go into Afghanistan with your son Carlos by your side, who is also a journalist. Was it difficult for you to be a journalist there doing a job and also be a father who obviously was worried about his son’s well-being?

The story takes a whole different spin with [Carlos] there. I’m a dad, so I’m looking out for my son. I’m with my son in one of the most dangerous places on earth. The one thing I couldn’t let happen was I couldn’t let my son die. People always tell me they think it’s fascinating to see a film about a father and son in a war zone telling the stories of the war. We never wanted to tell a father-son story. But people thought Americans would want to see that part of the story. We acquiesced and went ahead and told those stories about the father-son relationship because it’s something everyone can relate to. Not everyone can relate to war. Through the father-son story, we wanted to tell the bigger story of the war with all these other fathers and sons and mothers and daughters who are over there.

Why don’t you think Americans relate to the war today?

I think you can see a feature movie about a war or watch a news story, but you really don’t feel it. That’s why I wanted to make this film. I wanted the American public to feel the sacrifice of war. I wanted them to feel immersed in what really happens. People die. It’s not pretty. People have a hard time relating to that. We’re here [in the U.S.] and we are safe. We have two oceans on each side of our border. We don’t have to worry as much about the war and aren’t as attuned to our security as nations in Europe are.

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