To the editors:

Congratulations to the members of the Salt Lake press corps who did an outstanding job reporting the activation and departure of the 144th Evacuation Hospital, Utah National Guard.The early morning departure was perhaps the most difficult moment in the lives of the many of the guardsmen and the family members they were leaving behind. Reporters were at all times sensitive to the raw emotional atmosphere and approached those involved with respect and dignity when requesting interviews.

Photographers dealt with the uncomfortable task of recording poignant farewells with a like measure of restraint and concern. Often they chose to miss a good picture, rather than invade the privacy of a personal moment. The middle-of-the-night departure seemed to heighten the uncertainty and enhance the drama.

This decorum debunks the images of media feeding-frenzies seen occasionally on the evening news or, even worse, hideously portrayed in the entertainment industry's warped interpretation of reporters and cameramen as inhuman ghouls feeding on the grief of nameless, helpless victims.

The press abided by the limitations imposed by the Guard regarding release of names, access to armory buildings and the inconvenient time schedules - but still were able to tell the story of citizen-soldiers at once dedicated to country and its army, but even more so to their loved ones.

Lt. Col. V.R. Stein

Public affairs officer

Utah National Guard