Two views of photo of a fallen Marine


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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