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Review: "After 9/11, a young man has an urge to serve"

By Ryan A. Conklin (Caliber/Berkley)

Like many Americans moved to duty in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Ryan Conklin made the bold decision to enlist in the armed forces. He would have to wait a couple of years (he was a high school junior at the time) but the sincerity of his beliefs were reflected when he reported for basic training in September of 2003. From there, the young soldier would take a first tour of Iraq as part of Angel Company and subsequently experience sights and sounds, emotions and horrors that the bulk of the nation could never imagine, and only get inklings of through documentaries and films. If his name sounds familiar, then you’re likely a fan of MTV’s “Real World” series, on which Conklin appeared in 2009 as something of a fan favorite. It was on that Brooklyn-set season that he received a call from the Army summoning him back to service. MTV seized on that opportunity to follow Conklin back to Iraq and another tour of duty, which became the basis of the documentary “Return to Duty.” Whatever you think of that decision (crass?, ratings ploy?, honorable endeavor?), here you can experience Conklin’s journeys in his own words, with scores of photographs.

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