By Army Pfc. Kelly LeCompte
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, July 7, 2009 - A two-man team from MTV's "Real World" program spent a week at Joint Security Station Saydiyah here filming the final portions of a follow-up story on one of the show's former participants.
Army Spc. Ryan Conklin of the North Carolina National Guard's Company B, 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, starred in the Brooklyn edition of the show and received notice of his deployment during filming.
MTV followed the Gettysburg, Pa., native through part of his mobilization and pre-deployment training, and is filming the final portion, his deployment to Iraq, for the follow-up story.
At the end of June and early this month, photography director Jason Williams and producer Matt Ruecker covered Conklin patrolling Baghdad's Saydiyah neighborhood and participating in everyday life at this small base.
The "Real World" program involves moving a handful of people into a house together and covering their daily interactions.
"It is an examination of these people and the way they deal with these things in their lives, and this is just an extension of that," Ruecker said.
During the show, Conklin received a call from his brother, notifying him that he'd been recalled to active duty. Ruecker and Williams were there when Conklin received the call, and have since followed him to Iraq.
"It's not just a news story, it's deeper than that" Ruecker said. "Being the first people from MTV [in Iraq], I think that hopefully, we're going to provide a story that is not typical that is coming out of this region."
"And not typical to MTV," Williams added.
Conklin said he hopes the MTV coverage will help to open eyes among younger American viewers.
"I hope something positive comes out of it," he said, "even if it's just a slight introduction to just what things look like, or who's over here, or a face to soldiers. I think that would be pretty good."
"It's been a life experience that neither one of us will ever forget," Ruecker said.
(Army Pfc. Kelly LeCompte serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the North Carolina National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)