From 2009 – Outrage over photo of Marine


Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard, 21. Bernard was hit with a rocket propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Friday, Aug. 14, 2009 in the village of Dahaneh in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He later died of his wounds. The image shows fellow Marines helping Bernard after he suffered severe leg injuries. He was evacuated to a field hospital where he died on the operating table. It was part of a package of stories and photos released for publication called “AP Impact – Afghan – Death of a Marine.” The AP reported in a story that it decided to make the image public anyway because it “conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates is objecting “in the strongest terms” to an Associated Press decision to transmit a photograph showing a mortally wounded 21-year-old Marine in his final moments of life, calling the decision “appalling” and a breach of “common decency.” The AP reported that the Marine’s father had asked that the image not be published.

Gates wrote to AP President: Image

“Out of respect for his family’s wishes, I ask you in the strongest of terms to reconsider your decision. I do not make this request lightly. In one of my first public statements as Secretary of Defense, I stated that the media should not be treated as the enemy, and made it a point to thank journalists for revealing problems that need to be fixed – as was the case with Walter Reed.”
“I cannot imagine the pain and suffering Lance Corporal Bernard’s death has caused his family. Why your organization would purposefully defy the family’s wishes knowing full well that it will lead to yet more anguish is beyond me. Your lack of compassion and common sense in choosing to put this image of their maimed and stricken child on the front page of multiple American newspapers is appalling. The issue here is not law, policy or constitutional right – but judgment and common decency.”
Blog comments about this story – opposing viewpoints:
It’s an utter disgrace that Ms. Jacobson would hide behind journalism freedom to publish photos the surviving family requested to remain private. That’s how she chose to honor him and thank the battalian that was tasked to keep her alive. What’s her real motivation? GREED! How disgraceful.
I believe that the posting of a dying Marine is tastless and only used to up sales of a publication. The family requested to not have that photo published and their wishes should have been honored.
Thank you for showing these photos. I have a grandson in Afghanistan. People need to see this. People are gung-ho for war unless you have seen it yourself, which I did in WWII. These young men and women are dying for this country. Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard served bravely and died bravely. We shouldn’t turn our eyes from his life or his death because it is in our names as Americans.

Behind the Scenes: To Publish or Not?

On Assignment: Not Just One Picture

Interview with Joshua’s father

AP archive

Debate Over Photo Of Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard

Photographer’s journal entries


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