A few months back we got this photo of Portlander Fred Erlenbusch serving his time in the army in Baghdad, reading a copy of the Mercury on one of Saddam's palace chairs. Today, Fred (he preferred to be referred to by his first name than "Specialist Erlenbusch," so...you know...happy to oblige) dropped by the offices to recreate the shot in a slightly safer environment: The news room.
Fred, 20, got back to Portland last Tuesday, September 8, and expects to be redeployed at some point. Because he's only been in the army two years and has another three to go, he can't really talk much about what he's been doing over there, or about what he's likely to do next, but said the Mercury really helped relieve the boredom of life on the base. He was there for Stephen Colbert's head-shaving, too. He has a tattoo of Waterfront Park on his arm—"I'm really proud of being from Portland," he says, and is hoping to use the money earned from being in the army to go to college for photography. He has a Flickr page here, with some examples of his work. The tattoo on the left reminds him that there are many different paths in life, he says.
Has he experienced judgment for serving in the military from rabidly liberal Portlanders? "I think most people tend to be angry with the people making the decisions higher up," he says. "And not with the people making sacrifices to go over there and serve their country." Also, he has sustained more injuries at music shows here in the last two weeks than he did during the entire time in Baghdad. "I got a drum kit thrown at me last weekend, and I sprained my right leg in a mosh-pit," he says.
Buy him a beer if you see him around town.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!