Justin Murphy

Justin Murphy is a graduate of the Master's program in magazine, newspaper and online journalism at Syracuse University. Born in Rochester, N.Y., he did his undergraduate work in linguistics at the University of Chicago and taught historical linguistics at Vilnius University in Lithuania. He also has an interest in baseball history, and writes for www.seamheads.com and the Society for American Baseball Research. Murphy currently covers county government for The Citizen in Auburn, N.Y.

This is Our Freedom
All That Lingers
A Gift Given

How we got here

Photo by: David Miller

Long before our News21 team met our friendly neighborhood herd of goats, won the Curlew Barrel Derby three-on-three championship or commenced our twice-weekly trips to the Walmart in Omak, our only connection to the veterans in eastern Washington was on the telephone with Rick Francis of the Blackdog Foundation. It’s through him and the outreach work he does that we came to this particular corner of the world.

All in the family

Justin tries to save the saintly cat. Photo by: Juliette Lynch

It was, by all accounts, a fairly normal night for Joanna and her brood of brawling boys.

The other side of ...

Ed Bush, a Vietnam vet, talks to Justin. Photo by: Juliette Lynch

One of the big draws that brought the Syracuse News21 team to northeastern Washington was the promise of rugged mountain veterans living miles from the nearest patch of pavement, their hand-hewn property surrounded by forbidding signage. After three weeks in the area, though, we were hardly closer to verifying the existence of any quasi-mythological recluses, much less meeting them.

Now we know. They exist.

Families serving ...

Joanne counts the number of her husband's deployments. Photo by: Juliette Lynch

As part of our continuing quest to win this summer's News21 Rental Car Mileage Derby, Juliette and I made the 124-mile trip to Spokane today to meet with Joanna, who is married to an active duty tech sergeant (military cop) on Fairchild Air Force Base.

We heard about Joanna through her grandmother at a pancake breakfast in Republic. She is a 32-year-old mother of four and has been married to her husband, Nick, for eight years. In that time, he's been deployed five times to Iraq and the United Arab Emirates; he was also deployed a few times before they met.

Sunday with Ishi

Ishi Canaday in her backyard in Chelan, Wa. Photo by: Justin Murphy

On the first sunny Sunday since we've been out west, AJ and I took a beautiful drive out to Chelan, as far west as any Syracuse News21 fellow has dared tread thus far. We had an appointment with Rick Francis of Blackdog Foundation and Ishi Canaday, a domestic abuse victim whom he's helped.