Like Father Like Son: Evading death and strengthening their bond in the Afghanistan war

Martha Raddatz, Richard Coolidge & Jordyn Phelps
Power Players
Like Father Like Son: Evading death and strengthening their bond in the Afghanistan war

On the Radar

Journalists Mike and Carlos Boettcher have spent as much time embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan as just about anyone. They’ve gone to some of the most dangerous parts of the country to cover the war. And, they’ve done it all as father and son.

In their new documentary, “The Hornet’s Nest,” Emmy-award winning journalist Mike Boettcher and his son Carlos, who is now an ABC News producer, tell the story of their brush with death during an embed mission with the 101st Airborne Division in Kunar Province—a stronghold for the Taliban.

“I remember saying to myself ' you selfish son of bitch, did you get your son killed?'” Mike Boettcher tells On the Radar of the moment when he and his son were separated after their battalion was ambushed by the Taliban.

“We were in big trouble,” Boettcher recalls of the attack. “There was no cover; no nothing…We were getting hit from all sides. Carlos was separated from me, and I didn’t know if he was alive, or if he was dead. He didn’t know if I had been shot. And I kept calling out for him and heard nothing.”

While Mike and Carlos were lucky enough to be reunited that day, the battalion lost six soldiers over the course of that mission.

Boettcher says the experience of being so close to their own deaths during their time in Afghanistan, and witnessing the deaths of young soldiers they came to know and respect, brought he and Carlos together as father and son.

“Carlos says in the film, 'we came into this a father and a son, and we left a team,' and we did,” Boettcher says. “It has made us very, very close.”

Though Boettcher and his son developed a special bond through the experience embedding together, he doesn't recommend it for others and says he worried about Carlos constantly.

“I began this project, I was gonna do it on my own, and Carlos asked to join me…and you know I was really excited, and I was also scared to death because I knew he could die,” Boettcher says.

For more of the interview with Mike Boettcher, including the advice he gave to son for coping with the horrors they witnessed in Afghanistan, check out this episode of On the Radar. And to find out more about Mike and Carlos’ new film, go to

ABC's Eric Wray, Alexandra Dukakis, Wayne Boyd, and Derek Johnston contributed to this episode.