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David Sommerstein, reporter at North Country Public Radio, recently returned from a three day visit to the NATO peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. Some 3,200 soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division - based at Fort Drum near Watertown - are halfway through a six month deployment in the Yugoslavian province. Sommerstein was one of two dozen North Country residents who were invited by the U.S. Army to tour the peacekeeping mission.
Sommerstein interviewed many Fort Drum soldiers on their views and feelings about their mission in Kosovo. He also spoke with Kosovo Serbs and Albanians, through interpreters, about their lives since the U.S. troops arrived three years ago. Sommerstein accompanied soldiers on patrol through various towns and villages in the southeastern region of the province, near the border with Serbia and Macedonia.
Sommerstein said of his experience, "It's one thing to report from home about men and women of the North Country traveling to a war-torn country such as Kosovo for a six month deployment. It's quite another to be there, to see the soldiers marching down the street in forty pounds of gear, to hear the voices of Albanians and Serbs whose lives have been filled with violence, to experience first hand life in a military peacekeeping operation. I feel I can better convey the totality of the Kosovo mission to NCPR listeners."
North Country Public Radio is airing a series of reports from Sommerstein during the station's regional news hour, weekdays at 8:00 am and repeated at Noon. Each report, along with photos and extra interviews, are available on the regional news page of the North Country Public Radio website at www.ncpr.org.
and audio of David's Kosovo stories.