Directory 2003-’04

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This article was prepared for the April 16, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

Two dozen staffers at Assist America’s telephone center

at Lawrence Commons, near the Mercer Mall, fielded 107 questions in

September, 2001, that were directly related to terrorist action. Last

week, as a result of the war in Iraq, they had even sadder duties

to perform — helping to transport the remains of two American

journalists who were traveling with the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division.

The two were among at least 12 civilian journalists killed during

the three-week conflict, a somewhat shocking ratio when compared with

U.S. military casualties.

Michael Kelly, 46, was killed on April 4 along with a U.S. soldier

when their Humvee plunged into a canal south of Baghdad. Kelly was

editor at large for the Atlantic Monthly and a syndicated columnist

for the Washington Post. NBC correspondent David Bloom, 39, was south

of Baghdad when he collapsed and later died from a pulmonary embolism.

The U.S. military takes care of transporting the bodies of soldiers

who die overseas, whether in combat or in peacetime, but civilian

families have to make their own arrangements. Assist America served

as liaison with the military to help return the journalists’ remains

to Dover, Delaware.

"Only one of the journalists was our client, but we were eager

to help both families. We are pleased to have somehow contributed

during this very difficult time," says George Howard, CEO of the

13-year-old agency. His headquarters are at 1 Palmer Square and the

company has 31 employees in New Jersey, plus offices in Saudi Arabia,

Malaysia, and Manila (U.S. 1, October 24, 2001).

The nation’s largest provider of global emergency medical travel services,

Assist America coordinates travelers’ medical benefits for more than

250,000 American companies (www.assistamerica.com). In the worst case

scenarios, where there has been a death, Assist America procures the

required documentation and death certificates, arranges and pays for

the transportation, and brings the remains home for burial.

"It can be difficult to work with the bureaucracy, but when we

transported the remains of Michael Kelly, we developed a very positive

relationship with the facility in Dover. So when David Bloom died,

the government told the family to contact us," says Howard. "We

all felt like we knew him — he had been in our living rooms a

thousand times. We all somehow wanted to participate in what was going

on over there. One of our staffers, Ken Guy, went above and beyond

the usual to be sure everything worked exactly right. Although we

were glad to help in this circumstance, we hope we won’t be called

on again."

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Directory 2003-’04

The U.S. 1 Business Directory is scheduled to be distributed

along with this newspaper, one copy to each business that receives

the paper.

Afer this Wednesday, Aporil 16, the book will be for sale at $14.95

at area bookstores and at our office at 12 Roszel Road. Or send a

check for $18.95 and we will mail one first class. See page 49 for

an order blank.


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