Subject: [BC] [BC]Remembering Nick (was Why was Nick in Iraq?)
The tragic news about Nick Berg's murder hit very close to home, as I had
known him for about two years and we hired him for several recent
projects -- in fact, he installed an auxiliary antenna for WPLY in
February, just before heading back to Iraq. Perhaps I can shed some light
on this situation.
First, let me say that Nick impressed me as a very bright, resourceful
and dedicated individual who cared a great deal about improving our
quality of life by applying his skills and knowledge. Nick not only
possessed the necessary physical ability and stamina to do the job, but
had also studied engineering at Drexel, Penn, and Cornell, so I felt very
comfortable letting him handle our work. I knew that he wanted to grow
his own business, and I felt obligated to give him that opportunity.
He had all sorts of ideas to bring technology to less-developed
parts of the world, including a concrete tower which could be
fabricated in remote parts of the world using locally-
available materials, thus avoiding the problems of shipping steel in the
absence of a good transportation network.
In fact, at last year's PAB Engineering Conference in Hershey, he and his
father (who served as business manager of the company) displayed a
prototype modular structure called "Bovl Blocks", made of interlocking
concrete blocks that could be cast on site, then stacked to the desired
height. He thought this product would be particularly useful in the
African interior, where cellular networks are just beginning to be built
Why did he go to Iraq?
He was aware that some towers were damaged last year during bombing
missions, and many more had been looted... copper lines removed,
diagonal members taken out, etc. Few obstruction lighting systems were
functional -- he mentioned an 800 foot tower two miles from an airport
(used by our military) that was totally dark. So he first went over in
December to see if he could help to assist in the reconstruction, restore
Iraq's broadcast services, and repair the serious structural damage that
endangered the lives of their citizens.
I received the following email message from Nick in early January:
I am taking photos - where allowed. It's actually pretty sad - I just
got off one of two 320 meter monster towers in Abu Gharib (also home to
the main political prison) which use to support most of Baghdad area's
VHF and UHF. Both have been badly looted, including 4000 feet or more of
flexible 6- 1/8" heliax, two full 12X4 panel TV antennas, and even some
structural members. I was also in the North as I mentioned, but here
there wasn't as much damage. I'll definitely share some of these pix
with you and others next time I'm in the area - I'd love to put together
a little presentation for SBE or PAB in about six monthes after I've been
on every site and fixed some of them.
He returned to Philadelphia in late January to catch up on some
domestic business -- then in early February, tackled an antenna
replacement job at our aux site, which he had quoted last summer.
This proved to be more complicated than either of us had first assumed (a
three-bay DA with two vertical and four horizontal parasites per bay) but
he honored his original quote. The work took place in sub- zero
windchills... my feet were getting plenty cold just standing out in the
cornfield as we aligned the azimuth, it must have been brutal up on the
tower, but he took it in stride.
After Nick completed assembly and we purged the system, I ran the
pressure up to 5 PSI and closed the valve on the nitrogen tank. I came
out at 4:30 AM the next morning to run some power into the new antenna,
and as the transmitter ramped up to full output, I saw *zero* reflected.
(I tapped the meter to make sure it wasn't stuck!)
We had a perfect installation, no split or missing bullets, etc. And I
haven't seen *any* pressure loss since then (actually, the gage reads
between 7 and 8 now, due to the warmer weather.)
I knew that Nick was planning to return to Irag in March, but hadn't heard
any word from him over the past two months, which had me concerned. Then
I received the message from his parents (which Stu Engelke posted here
last week) and my heart sunk. I was at lunch yesterday when the news
broke about his brutal murder, and I was devastated.
If you've been following all sides of this story, you may have read
that his parents did not receive much cooperation from OUR Federal
Government when trying to learn his whereabouts, which is very
disturbing. He had reportedly booked a March 30 flight back to New
York, but missed it because he had been detained by our military.
Today's "spin" on the story is that they told him to get out, but I'm not
Let's keep his family in our thoughts and prayers. Our industry (and
humanity) has lost a very fine person.