L.A. Times photographer Luis Sinco has been immersed in the life of former Marine Cpl. James Miller since the horrible day in 2004 when Sinco snapped this photo during a bloody battle in Falloujah. He tells the story of what has happened since — and it's a lot — in a two-part, first-person piece that ran in the paper this weekend.
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.
Three years later, they are still in each other's lives. More photos and video of the Marlboro Marine online.