In the spring of 1966, a time when many young men were scrambling to obtain an educational deferment to avoid the draft, Grinnell College student Robert Hodierne dropped out and bought himself a one-way ticket to Vietnam.

He became the youngest fully accredited foreign journalist to cover the war, placing himself in the line of fire to document the life of a soldier. His photographs appeared in major U.S. and European magazines and in the Time-Life series of books on Vietnam.

More than 40 years later, now a journalism professor at the University of Richmond, Hodierne is once again setting out to capture the joys and struggles experienced by the American soldier — replacing the jungles of Vietnam with the deserts of Afghanistan.

Hodierne is currently in New Zud in Helmand Province filming "Combat Outpost: Afghanistan," a two-hour PBS documentary. The film chronicles the Afghanistan tour of the Marines in 2nd platoon, A Co., 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.

Accompanied by videographer Rob Curtis, Hodierne is spending six weeks with the Marines during the beginning of their seven-month tour and will return for three weeks in September as they wrap it up.

He’s chronicling his travels on a blog, posting whenever he has Internet access.

The following excerpt comes from an entry titled “A Hard Day,” dated May 20.

It was 1800 by the time all of that was done and we had just climbed back into our vehicles when a mortar team in Kenjak-e Olya opened fire on us. Marines on top of OP Arizona actually saw the team and its mortar tube. The first three rounds of 82 mm mortars landed about 150 meters too long. The next three landed about 150 meters too short. They had us bracketed. All they had to do was split the difference on range and we'd have been able to test how mortar resistant our armored vehicles really are.

Read more of Professor Hodierne’s accounts at