'Marlboro Marine' - Two lives blurred together by a photo

This is the photo that made Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller -- the 'Marlboro Marine' -- famous.

Times photographer Luis Sinco made James Blake Miller an emblem of the war.The image would change both of their lives and connect them in ways neither imagined.

By Luis Sinco, Times Staff Photographer, First of two parts

November 11, 2007

The young marine lighted a cigarette and let it dangle. White smoke wafted around his helmet. His face was smeared with war paint. Blood trickled from his right ear and the bridge of his nose.

Momentarily deafened by cannon blasts, he didn't know the shooting had stopped. He stared at the sunrise.

His expression caught my eye. To me, it said: terrified, exhausted and glad just to be alive. I recognized that look because that's how I felt too.

I raised my camera and snapped a few shots.

With the click of a shutter, Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, a country boy from Kentucky, became an emblem of the war in Iraq. The resulting image would change two lives -- his and mine.

SNIP This is Part one of a two part report. The Rest can Be Found Here

You can also find Three Video's Parts One, Two, and Epilogue Here

Part Two

James Blake Miller went to work at a motorcycle repair shop whose owner presides over the local chapter of a motorcycle club.

Rescue operation aims to save a wounded warrior

Despite concerns of overstepping, Times photographer Luis Sinco feels compelled to help the Iraq vet he made famous.
By Luis Sinco : times staff photographer, Second of two parts
November 12, 2007

James blake miller was in a world of pain, and I figured I should be by his side.

A veterans' treatment program in West Haven, Conn. -- arguably the best in the nation -- offered hope. Moe Armstrong, a pioneer in vet-to-vet counseling, had heard of the Marlboro Marine's troubles and sent him feelers about coming for a visit. Despite my reservations about getting too involved, I had flown from Los Angeles to Kentucky to help Miller grab this lifeline. I coaxed him into my rental car and we headed north.

I questioned myself. Was this the right thing to do? For Miller, yes. But for me? What awaited us at the end of this journey? I caught Miller's eyes reflected in the rearview mirror, droopy and lifeless. He hadn't slept well, and a long road led from his home in the Appalachian coal country to New England.

SNIP Rest Of Part Two Can Be Read Here

Video's of Part One, Part Two and the Epilogue can be viewed at site link