Brian Mockenhaupt Wins the 2013 Michael Kelly Award

Washington, D.C.--Atlantic Media announced today that Brian Mockenhaupt is this year's recipient of the Michael Kelly Award for his story, "The Living and the Dead," published by

The $25,000 award is given annually to a journalist whose work exemplifies a quality that animated Michael Kelly's own career: the fearless pursuit and expression of truth. Kelly, who was the editor of two Atlantic Media publications, The Atlantic and National Journal, was killed 10 years ago while covering the war in Iraq.

In "The Living and the Dead," Mockenhaupt tells the story of a Marine platoon in Afghanistan that suffered heavy casualties and the toll it took on those who survived.

"Michael Kelly would have greatly admired the ambition of Mockenhaupt's work, the courage he displayed in reporting the story, and the power of his writing," said the Kelly Award judges in a statement. "It is fitting that on the tenth anniversary of Mike's death, we are honoring a journalist whose work exemplifies many of the qualities that distinguished Mike's own reporting from the battlefield."

The judges also recognized three journalists as finalists, selected from a field of more than 60 entries from U.S.-based media organizations: Alberto Arce of the Associated Press, David Barboza of The New York Times, and Michael M. Phillips of The Wall Street Journal.

The winner and finalists were honored at a dinner last night in Washington.

Five judges comprised this year's Michael Kelly Award selection panel: James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic; Charles Green, editor, National Journal; Cullen Murphy, editor at large, Vanity Fair; Sarah Stillman, staff writer, The New Yorker and 2012 winner of the Michael Kelly Award; and Scott Stossel, editor, The Atlantic magazine.

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Brian Mockenhaupt,

A former infantryman in Iraq, Brian Mockenhaupt wanted to write about what happens when someone in the military has to assume his dead boss's job, and those under him have to adjust to new leadership during the most stressful time of their lives. It's a situation unfathomable to most of the civilian world, but one the military takes for granted.

Mockenhaupt's reporting stretched over 18 months, taking him from a platoon in Afghanistan that went on daily--and deadly--foot patrols in Afghanistan to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where Marines struggled to reintegrate into the world they had left behind. "War is a wicked dichotomy that never leaves us," a platoon commander wrote Mockenhaupt after reading his story, "and you brilliantly captured its nature."

Mockenhaupt is a contributing editor at Outside, Reader's Digest, and Esquire magazines, and is the nonfiction editor at the Journal of Military Experience. He also writes for The Atlantic, Pacific Standard, and Backpacker. He served two tours in Iraq as an infantryman with the 10th Mountain Division. Since leaving the U.S. Army in 2005, he has written extensively on military and veteran affairs, reporting from Afghanistan and Iraq, hometowns and hospitals. Prior to joining the Army, he worked as a newspaper reporter in the United States and in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, at The Cambodia Daily, an English-language newspaper, and as a contributing reporter for the Far Eastern Economic Review, reporting from Cambodia, Burma, and South Korea.


Alberto Arce, Associated Press

Plagued by the highest murder rate in the world and overrun by drug traffickers, Honduras has become a cauldron of violence and political instability. More than two dozen Honduran journalists have been killed in just the last two years. Why did veteran war correspondent Alberto Arce move to Honduras in March of 2012? To "bear witness," he said, "to a country in crisis." Arce was the only foreign journalist stationed in Honduras last year. He wrote about coffins becoming political swag in one of the hemisphere's poorest nations and chronicled life inside a prison so dangerous that not even prison guards are allowed in certain sections. His courage, dedication, and tenacity brought a dying country to life for readers around the world.

Arce joined the AP in February 2012 as a correspondent in Honduras. He previously wrote investigative narratives for Guatemala's Plaza Pública and covered conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestinian territories as a freelance cameraman and writer for Spanish and international media. He has been recognized for his work in conflict zones, including a 2009 Anna Lindh award for reports from the Gaza Strip and a 2012 Rory Peck award for his coverage of the battle of Misrata in Libya.

David Barboza, The New York Times

In a series of reports that caused a sensation in China, David Barboza revealed that members of the family of then-Prime Minister Wen Jiabao were secret billionaires, using Wen's position to acquire lucrative stakes in jewelry, finance, insurance, and communications companies. Barboza spent more than a year uncovering the finances of Wen's family and in the process exposed the corruption riddling China's political system. Barboza and The New York Times persevered at great risk. He received threats and had to be relocated for a time to Japan. The Times saw its new Chinese-language Web site blocked by China and became the victim of sustained cyber-attacks traced to the People's Liberation Army.

Barboza has been a correspondent for The New York Times based in Shanghai since November 2004 and writes primarily for the Business section. Barboza was a freelance writer and a research assistant for The New York Times before being hired in 1997 as a staff writer. Barboza has twice won the Gerald Loeb Award for business reporting and has won two awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Michael M. Phillips, The Wall Street Journal

After a suicide bomber slammed a pushcart filled with explosives into the convoy in which he was riding, Michael M. Phillips headed towards the stricken truck and helped drag a wounded sergeant out of the street as bullets from insurgents skipped off the road around them. With his dispatch about the attack, Phillips captured the bravery and tragedy in the confusion of war in Afghanistan. As importantly, he captured the often anguishing aftermath of the war in a series of reports he wrote upon returning to the United States. He described the altered emotional and mental states of America's fighting men and women, telling the stories of what battle wreaks on veterans and the circle of people around them. 

Phillips is a staff reporter in the Washington bureau of The Wall Street Journal. He has covered the U.S. ground war in Afghanistan since 2001, embedding with American forces in the field on two dozen occasions. He previously worked for United Press International, States News Service, the Associated Press, and Dow Jones. Phillips was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his feature coverage of the war in Afghanistan and he has won awards from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the National Press Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Association of Black Journalists.