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Two views of photo of a fallen Marine


The photo on Wednesday’s front page of Marines in Afghanistan waiting with the body of a fallen battalion member drew strong, and opposing, responses from readers. Cpl. Jorge Villarreal, who was based at Camp Pendleton, was killed by an improvised bomb while on patrol. In the photo, above, three fellow Marines await a helicopter that will evacuate Villarreal's body.

Sunny Alexander of Oak Park, Calif., said she was “appalled” to see the photo on the front page.

“Did you forget that he was someone’s son, or husband or friend? Does the publishing of the photo mean more than its impact upon his loved ones?” Alexander asked in an e-mail. “The right or wrong of our being in Afghanistan is not the issue in my comments. Humanity should supersede politics or point of view on this war. If not, are we not sinking to the level of those who place the IEDs?”

However, Sandra Bengel of Arcadia wrote to say thank you for publishing it.

“My heart goes out to the family and loved ones of this young man.  For too long all the media has been ignoring the true cost of this war in Afghanistan -- the death of thousands of young Americans,” Bengel said in her e-mail. “I applaud your courage in portraying soldiers in the field dealing with the death of one of their own.”

Deputy Managing Editor Colin Crawford explained the decision to run the photo.

“In my mind, the photo showed a tender moment, with a Marine placing his hand on his fallen comrade,” he said. “I feel we have a responsibility to remind our readers that we are at war and that our soldiers and Marines are still paying the ultimate sacrifice to keep us safe.”

Valerie Fields of Los Angeles found the photo moving.

“I do not cry easily, but the photo on Page One of today's Times had me in tears,” she e-mailed. “The president cannot start his withdrawals of our service members soon enough for me.  Losing our young for a worthy cause is bad, but losing them for during a war that should never have been started is unbearable.”

--Deirdre Edgar

Photo credit: Scott Olson / Getty Images


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Comments (11)

Pardon me, the Marines are there "to keep us safe"? Why must you in the media always throw in that extra little smidge of government propaganda. Heaven forbid you parrots appear not patriotic enough! I can name half dozen reasons why the United States is keeping this vicious war and illegal/immoral occupation of Afghanistan going into its second decade, and not one has anything to do with "keeping us safe".

God Bless Our Troops. Thanks for all their hard work in keeping us safe.

Some people don't realize what our troops sacrafice for our freedoms. There is love shown in this picture too. It moved me much. If this were my fallen son (and I do have a son in the Army), I would be comforted by the respect and love demonstrated in this photo.

that person under neath that green rug is my friend , a friend that i have yet lost to this war and i miss him dearly. he left behind many people that loved him and that were looking forward to his return back here in san antonio texas, a place where i can literally say we stick together. jorge was more than a soilder , he was a great son husband and an amigo we can not replace.. memories that i can not replace and im only speaking from my behalf , a friends view.. i can not imagine what his family would want to put on here.. jorge left us too early, not enough memories were made in my opinion.. im not too sure why i had the urge to find this paper article, but for it making the front page all the way in L.A Times, to me means something..

from all the way in San Antonio Texas, im going to miss you very much my dear friend, as well as your family.. thank you for everything you have done for us..words can not explain how much we'll miss you..but thank you jorge, untill we meet again mi amigo!!! love you

I live in San Antonio, the home of Cpl. Villarreal, and read the Times daily. Cpl. Villarreal left a wife, a daughter, his parents and countless other realtives and friends. In my opinion the photo demonstrates an amount of sensitity and caring on the part of your newspaper. We should take a moment to reflect on our many blessings, some I'm sure we take for granted as Americans. So many of us have never known a life of struggle, hunger or oppression.
Our men and women in uniform are to be thanked every day for their committment to keeping us free.

As one of jv's friends it makes me sad to see such a tender personal moment put on the front page to be viewed by everyone. He left behind many people that loved him and cared for him and to show a picture like this is disgusting. Show him in action! Show him with his fellow troops! But, do not show him fallen! Have some decency for those of us that loved and lost him.

Let's face it, in war people get killed. His death is the result of people who feel
justified in taking the life of a US soldier. Nothing we can do can change the
motivation of Islamic patriots, to rid their country of foreign troops. Just like the American Revolution, Americans killed British soldiers and felt justified in
doing it. There will always be conflict in this world. But let us (USA) remember
that if we as a nation refuse to take a leading role in combating the forces of extremism either, external or internal, at some point in the future, they will be
"knocking on our door".

War is hell and it's the duty of a free press to show that hell, so people can see the attocities committed by both sides, but the invader has to be more responsible for those attrocities than the ones defending their land from invaders. One reason that these two unjustified wars have lasted so long has to be the lack of fairness in reporting, showing the attrocities of those wars. When children run after G.I.s throwing candy to children, the embedded media is there showing how "kind and friendly" those G.Is are, but when those "heroes" killed, rape, torture, the media is nowhere to be found. I received iva e-mail, some marines that had killed an Iraqi family and a three year covered in blood and crying with a rifle next to the child and youn don't see those in regular embedded media. One, if not the main reason that the Viet Nam war came to an end, was that famous photograp that show this "democracy" dropping napalm and burning that 10 year old Vietnamese girl, but those days of Walter Cronkite and of an independent media, the facts tromp the bottom line. If more of thses photographs were shown, I'm 100% sure that the wars could be a thing of the past. If we want to stop the wars and kill that wild cowboy mentality of pre-emptive strikes, bring back the draft. Of course, republicans, tea partiers will not stand for. They love to start wars, but are the first ones hiding in the ANG, deferments galore, Canada, England, etc. Bring the troops home.

Valerie Fields: "A war that shouldn't have been started". Really? This is Afghanistan. Are you saying we shouldn't have responded to 9/11?

What this picture shows is that in a war that is waged for good or bad, this young man's fellow Marines had respect and love for a fallen comrade.

The photo is so heart-rending for the families of those fighting in far-away lands.

The rest of us should always remember the supreme sacrifices made for our way of life and of those that believe in us.

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