By: E&P Staff
So whatever happened to Lance Cpl. Blake Miller — the U.S. Marine pictured as a kind of war-weary “Marlboro Man” in one of the most widely published iconic images of the Iraq war?
The 2004 photograph by Luis Sinco of the Los Angeles Times showing Miller, face dirty under a helmet, a cigarette dangling from his lips, went around the world and back again, hitting front pages everywhere. Now Miller, of Jonancy, Ky., is a civilian “and is having trouble adjusting to civilian life,” CBS News reports.
Back home, he got married in June, but on duty during the Hurricane Katrina relief effort, Miller suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and was granted an honorable discharge from the Marines in November.
Miller told CBS this morning, “For the most part, I mean, it was a big adjustment [when I got home] just trying to get in that mindset of being able to just roam, run around without fear of being shot at or where to look for danger. … It’s unexplainable. I mean, just to go from that mindset to being able to walk around freely and just enjoy it.”
He said during his Katrina duties, while on the USS Iwo Jima, a sailor mimicked the whistle of a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).
“For anybody to duplicate that sound,” Miller said, “they’ve had to hear it. Without even knowing what I’d done until after it was over, I snatched him up, I slammed him against the bulkhead, the wall, and took him to the floor, and I was on top of him.”
Miller went into therapy, but knows he is not alone. “A lot of guys have had way worse incidents from being in Iraq,” he said. “And I guess it just — it troubled me due to the fact that their incidents may have been more severe, and they weren’t suffering from the same things I was. I just didn’t understand how it could affect me so dramatically and not affect some of these guys. But a lot of them deal with different ways.
“The more and more I talk to [other guys], the more I found out there were a lot of Marines that are going through same or similar emotions. It’s tough to deal with. Being in Iraq is something no one wants to talk about.”