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The Observer 11/17/14

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Home arrow News arrow Business & Ag Life arrow Pat Caldwell joins Baker City Herald newsroom staff

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Pat Caldwell joins Baker City Herald newsroom staff

Pat Caldwell 

BAKER CITY — Pat Caldwell’s job hunting days serendipitously coincided with the Baker City Herald’s search for a new reporter.

Caldwell, 46, started his new job with the Herald on Jan 6. He will cover city and county government as well as business and agriculture, said Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor.

Caldwell replaces Terri Harber, who joined the Herald staff in February of 2011 and left last month to take a position with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News at Moscow, Idaho.

Caldwell, the youngest of five brothers, is no stranger to Eastern Oregon or to the newspaper business. He grew up in La Grande and is a 1986 La Grande High School graduate. He graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1991 with a degree in history.

Caldwell says he was naturally inclined toward a career in journalism, following in the footsteps of his oldest brother, Bob, 18 years his senior. 

“I like to write. I was good at it and I got paid for it,” he  said of his desire to work as a journalist.

Pat started out, just as his older brother had, in the sports department of his hometown newspaper, The Observer, in 1991.

Bob Caldwell’s longtime newspaper career took him to The Oregonian, where he served for many years as the editorial page editor before his death in 2012 at the age of 63.

Pat’s career path also parallels that of his second oldest brother, Mike, 16 years his senior. Mike Caldwell retired in July as a brigadier general after 40 years with the Oregon National Guard.

(His brother, Pete, lives in La Grande and works for the Oregon Department of Transportation. And his brother, Kevin, is employed in the timber industry in Salem.)

Pat Caldwell has served in the National Guard for 22 years, including full-time work for the past three years as a combat correspondent. That job took him to Iraq for more than a year.

“I always wanted to be a war correspondent, but I probably could have done without it,” he says now, reflecting on the shoulder and ankle injuries and other health issues he’s been plagued with since returning from Iraq.

“It’s hard on your body,” he said of the seven-day-a week stress of war with no time off. “I saw a lot of Iraq and I was shot at, mortared and rocketed.”

On the other hand, Caldwell is proud to have shared the experience with people who he says, for the most part, were “the best Americans I’ve ever seen or been around.”

Stories about some of those soldiers, including Baker City and La Grande residents, have been published in the Baker City Herald and the La Grande Observer over the past few years.

Caldwell’s military service also includes working as a public information officer out of the war zone and being part of the Guard’s reintegration program designed to help soldiers returning home after their deployments.

Caldwell’s journalism career has taken him to stints at several Oregon newspapers as a sports reporter, including The Observer, the Argus Observer in Ontario and the Statesman Journal at Salem. He also worked for  the Meridian Valley Times, a twice-weekly newspaper in Meridian, Idaho, which is no longer in business, from November 1997 to June 1998.

From Meridian, he was hired as news editor at The Argus Observer. He worked in that position for about three years before taking over as editor in October 2001.

He left Argus Observer in January 2010 to prepare for deployment to Iraq with the Eastern Oregon 3rd Battalion 116th Cavalry Regiment. 

Caldwell worked full time as a combat correspondent until September 2013 when the position was cut for lack of funding. Since then he’s been working as a freelance writer.

A staff sergeant in the National Guard, Caldwell will continue his part-time service as a public information officer in addition to his position with the Baker City Herald. 

The divorced father of four lives in New Plymouth, Idaho, but he plans to move to Baker City as soon as possible, pending the sale of his home in Idaho.

His oldest daughter, Madison, 20, is a student at Carroll College in Helena, Mont. His two sons, Connell, 17, and 10-year-old Kiernan will move to Baker City with their dad. And his daughter, Kennedy, 4, lives with her mother in New Plymouth.

Until he moves, Caldwell will commute from La Grande, where he’ll stay during the week with his 88-year-old mother, Barbara (Joyce) Caldwell. 

His mother grew up at Juntura between Ontario and Burns. She attended Baker High School and was enrolled in the Cadet Nurse Corps training here during World War II.

Pat’s father, Don Caldwell, who died in 1986, came to Baker County with his family from Utah when his father took a job at Lime. Pat’s parents met at Radium Hot Springs near Haines after his dad returned home after World War II.

Pat says he’s looking forward to working in Baker County and already has ties to the community through family and friends.

“I know a lot of people here because of the Guard,” he said. “Mom knows a lot of people here because of the nurses corps.”

Caldwell also has combined his writing skill and his wartime experiences in a nearly completed novel titled “Sine Mora: A Year in Iraq With the Volunteer Cavalry.”

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