of a Marine fatally wounded in battle, choosing after a period of reflection to make public an image that conveys the grimness of war and the sacrifice of young men and women fighting it.
Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade in a Taliban ambush Aug. 14 in Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.
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.
The picture was taken by Associated Press photographer Julie Jacobson, who accompanied Marines on the patrol and was in the midst of the ambush during which Bernard was wounded. She had photographed Bernard on patrol earlier, and subsequently covered the memorial service held by his fellow Marines after his death.
"AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is," said Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP.
He said Bernard's death shows "his sacrifice for his country. Our story and photos report on him and his last hours respectfully and in accordance with military regulations surrounding journalists embedded with U.S. forces."
Journalists embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan must sign a statement accepting a series of rules which among other things are designed to protect operational security and lives of the soldiers and Marines who are hosting them.
Critics also maintain some of the rules are aimed at sanitizing the war, minimizing the sacrifice and cruelty which were graphically depicted by images from the Civil War to Vietnam where such restrictions were not in place.
The rule regarding coverage of "wounded, injured, and ill personnel" states that the "governing concerns" are "patient welfare, patient privacy and next of kin/family considerations."
"Casualties may be covered by embedded media as long as the service member's identity and unit identification is protected from disclosure until OASD-PA has officially released the name. Photography from a respectful distance or from angles at which a casualty cannot be identified is permissible; however, no recording of ramp ceremonies or remains transfers is permitted."
Images of U.S. soldiers fallen in combat have been rare in Iraq and Afghanistan, partly because it is unusual for journalists to witness them and partly because military guidelines have barred the showing of photographs until after families have been notified.
Jacobson, who was crouching under fire, took the picture from a distance with a long lens and did not interfere with Marines trying to assist Bernard.
The AP waited until after Bernard's burial in Madison, Maine, on Aug. 24 to distribute its story and the pictures. An AP reporter met with his parents, allowing them to see the images.
Bernard's father after seeing the image of his mortally wounded son said he opposed its publication, saying it was disrespectful to his son's memory. John Bernard reiterated his viewpoint in a telephone call to the AP on Wednesday.
"We understand Mr. Bernard's anguish. We believe this image is part of the history of this war. The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice," said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski.
The photo was in a package that the AP sent to its newspaper, broadcast and online subscribers Thursday morning with an "embargo," or scheduled release time, of 12:01 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4. That scheduled release time meant the stories and photos were in the hands of thousands of editors by Thursday morning, giving them the day to make their own decisions about publishing the battlefield photo.
Thursday afternoon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called AP President Tom Curley asking that the news organization respect the wishes of Bernard's father and not publish the photo. Curley and AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll said they understood this was a painful issue for Bernard's family and that they were sure that factor was being considered by the editors deciding whether or not to publish the photo, just as it had been for the AP editors who decided to distribute it.
Jacobson, in a journal she kept, recalled Bernard's ordeal as she lay in the dirt while Marines tried to save their comrade with bullets overhead.
"The other guys kept telling him 'Bernard, you're doing fine, you're doing fine. You're gonna make it. Stay with me Bernard!'" As one Marine cradled Bernard's head, fellow Marines rushed forward with a stretcher.
Later, when she learned he had died, Jacobson thought about the pictures she had taken.
"To ignore a moment like that simply ... would have been wrong. I was recording his impending death, just as I had recorded his life moments before walking the point in the bazaar," she said. "Death is a part of life and most certainly a part of war. Isn't that why we're here? To document for now and for history the events of this war?"
Later, she showed members of his squad all the images taken that day and the Marines flipped through them on her computer one by one.
"They did stop when they came to that moment," she said. "But none of them complained or grew angry about it. They understood that it was what it was. They understand, despite that he was their friend, it was the reality of things."
The AP has issued a statement regarding its coverage of the fallen Marine. That statement follows.
The Associated Press has distributed a package of stories and photos about Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Bernard, 21, who last month was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade during a Taliban ambush in southern Afghanistan and died of his wounds.
The package was transmitted early on Thursday, Sept. 3, to be held under embargo until 12:01 a.m. Friday, Sept. 4, to give newspaper editors time to consider publication of one of the photos in the package, a graphic image showing Bernard being assisted by his fellow Marines in the midst of the firefight. AP also distributed the photo online in such a way that the image would not appear unless Web site operators allowed it, or readers clicked to signify they were prepared to see a graphic image.
The image was captured by an AP photographer who was embedded with Bernard's unit, along with an AP reporter and an AP Television News cameraman. The photographer, crouching under fire, took the picture from a distance with a long lens and did not interfere with Marines tending to Bernard. The photo was among several taken by the AP photographer, which included battles scenes as well as later scenes of Bernard's fellow Marines honoring his sacrifice at a memorial service.
The decision to release the photo of the mortally wounded Bernard followed long deliberations within AP about whether to do so. An AP reporter also met with Bernard?s parents, so they could see the images in advance of their release.
AP journalists have covered conflict around the world for 163 years and witnessed countless scenes of war's deadly consequence. But the decision to distribute them is never quickly or easily made. Ultimately, in this case, AP decided that, in the context of the full report, it was important to show readers and viewers the images.
"AP journalists document world events every day. Afghanistan is no exception. We feel it is our journalistic duty to show the reality of the war there, however unpleasant and brutal that sometimes is," Santiago Lyon, the director of photography for AP, said in a sidebar story included in the package about Bernard.
He said Bernard's death shows "his sacrifice for his country."
AP believes that the stories and photos report on Bernard and his last hours respectfully and conform with military regulations surrounding journalists embedded with U.S. forces.
Journalists embedded with U.S. forces in Afghanistan must sign a statement accepting a series of rules, which include provisions designed to protect operational security and the lives of the soldiers and Marines who host them in the field.
"We believe this image is part of the history of this war,? said AP senior managing editor John Daniszewski. "The story and photos are in themselves a respectful treatment and recognition of sacrifice."
The Associated Press
Director of Media Relations
By: The Associated Press is distributing a