Cameraman Looked to God, Prayer While in Kuwait

Article excerpt

Byline: Rev. Greg Asimakoupoulos

Naperville, like countless communities, has been well- represented in the Iraqi war - both on the battlefield and off.

Consider Casey Klaus.

While others marched into Iraq, this 1994 Naperville North High School graduate was content to remain in Kuwait City for his tour of duty. Klaus' job with Channel 7 put him behind an $80,000 television camera to aid in the production of Chuck Goudie's daily reports for WLS-TV.

For four weeks, Klaus sent daily e-mails to his family and friends at Naperville Evangelical Covenant Church. He concluded each summary of his day's activities with a request that they pray for him.

"Prayer is an essential part of my life," Klaus said. "I couldn't have managed without the knowledge that people at home were bowing their heads while I was struggling to pull a gas mask over mine."

Klaus had that unenviable task several times during his assignment. When sirens in Kuwait City signaled a possible attack, Klaus and his colleagues at the followed the protocol.

"I got much more proficient with practice, but it's almost impossible to pull those clumsy masks on quickly," said Klaus, whose hotel room shook when a missile struck a downtown mall 3 miles away. "In all honesty, because there were so many false alarms, after a while we had to keep reminding ourselves that the siren needed to be taken seriously."

Besides the risk of being in a war zone, another issue added to the emotions of this once-in-a-lifetime assignment. Klaus agreed to go to Kuwait just three months before his wedding. Being separated from his fiancee for four weeks at such a critical time was difficult.

"I knew that the conflict in Iraq would most likely be a defining moment in history and I didn't want to miss that. Besides, I have long contended that my job is most necessary and important when there is risk involved," Klaus said. "Fortunately, (my fiancee) Michele, concurred with my evaluation of the opportunity and gave me her blessing."

Klaus was the first Chicago broadcaster to engineer a videophone transmission from Kuwait. For him, the thrill of capturing history as it's made compensated for all the travel and the threats to his safety.

"One of the reasons I went into journalism was to witness and record history," he said. "As I watched documentaries growing up, I always was impressed with the historical footage on seemingly everything. ...I feel privileged to have been selected to cover the war in Iraq."

Though Klaus was not embedded with the troops, he faced risk by being in Kuwait City. As he went about his job filming and editing footage, he remained cautious and alert to street scenes that would indicate anything suspicious. But mostly, he felt safe.

In an e-mail to his family in Naperville, he described the friendly atmosphere in which the Kuwaitis welcomed him. …