Marlboro Marine

Marlboro Marine

After a photographer makes a soldier's face an emblem of the Iraq war, the image changes both of their lives and connects them in ways neither imagined.

When Los Angeles Times photojournalist Luis Sinco documented the marines’ assault on Fallouja in November, 2004, he made a photograph of Marine Lance Corporal James Blake Miller. Weary from the ferocious battle, Miller lit a cigarette, and Sinco’s photograph of that moment became an icon of the Iraq War. But the connection between Sinco and Miller runs deeper. After returning from Iraq, Miller tried to return to his previous life but found his nights haunted by images of war and his life fractured by depression.

These narrated audio-slideshows depict how Miller struggles to heal his scars of war. Miller’s haunting voice and images bring the home front story to life when he returns from the battlefield to Kentucky. But it is also a story of how two disparate lives became connected in Fallouja, and how they both continue to struggle with what happened.

It also raises a philosophical question: When is it proper for a photographer to come from behind his camera and befriend and even help his subject? Though Sinco was not tight with Miller in Iraq, he witnessed the former soldier was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder back in the U.S., and got him into psychological counseling. But the story doesn’t end there.

This multimedia package includes an on-camera video interview with Sinco.

Photography and Audio: Luis Sinco

Video: Chad A. Stevens

Photography Editing: Mary Cooney and Alan Hagman

Producer: Chad A. Stevens

Executive Producer: Brian Storm